Balanced team effort key as Hawks, missing Trae Young, beat Bucks in Game 4

Bogdan Bogdonovic and Kevin Huerter celebrate the Hawks' big win over the Bucks Tuesday.
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Bogdan Bogdonovic and Kevin Huerter celebrate the Hawks' big win over the Bucks Tuesday.

Credit: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Overcoming Trae Young’s absence, the No. 5 seed Hawks blew out the No. 3 seed Bucks 110-88 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday at State Farm Arena, tying the series 2-2.

ExploreMark Bradley: An incredible night with Trae Young on the bench

Next up, Game 5 will be 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Milwaukee.

Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. Missing their star guard — Young was out after suffering a bone bruise in his right foot in Game 3 — at the most pivotal point of the season, the Hawks made it work, largely because of 16-year-veteran Lou Williams. Williams started in Young’s place and scored team-high 21 points with eight assists, five rebounds and a steal.

Williams helped control the game pretty much from start to finish, with the Hawks leading by 25 entering the fourth quarter (center Clint Capela even hit a trick shot over the backboard for good measure, as the game got out of hand). Despite Young’s absence, the Hawks moved the ball well and tallied 26 assists, with wing Kevin Huerter adding seven assists along with 15 points and six rebounds.

The Hawks won this game, per Huerter, because everyone shared the ball, chipped in and didn’t try to be the “hero” on their own. Capela had 15 points and seven rebounds and Danilo Gallinari had 10 points.

“You want everybody to find a rhythm,” Huerter said. “We don’t need people in transition, pulling up from the logo and offensively going one-on-one the way Trae can. It’s really not anybody’s game on this team. So we didn’t need people to play like that. That message was well received.”

2. In a scary moment midway through the third quarter, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo fell down hard, stayed down for a while and had to be helped off the court, barely able to put weight on his left leg. He had to stop several times to collect himself and seemed to be in a lot of pain (per the Bucks, Antetokounmpo hyperextended his left knee, unable to return to the game). The Hawks were leading by 10 at that point and within about two-and-a-half minutes, they had doubled that to 74-54. Antetokounmpo had 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes, before departing.

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Hawks center Clint Capela (right) and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo fall after battling at the basket during the third quarter of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday, June 29, 2021, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Antekounmpo left the game with an apparent knee injury. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Hawks center Clint Capela (right) and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo fall after battling at the basket during the third quarter of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday, June 29, 2021, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Antekounmpo left the game with an apparent knee injury. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
caption arrowCaption
Hawks center Clint Capela (right) and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo fall after battling at the basket during the third quarter of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday, June 29, 2021, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Antekounmpo left the game with an apparent knee injury. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

3. Just as it seemed injuries would doom the Hawks, two players who haven’t been 100% hit their stride: Bogdan Bogdanovic and Cam Reddish. For several games, Bogdanovic has been dealing with right knee soreness, which threw off his shooting rhythm — in Tuesday’s game, though, he had more spring in his step and started raining 3′s. Bogdanovic went 6-14 from 3-point range, finishing with 20 points, five assists, three rebounds and four steals. Reddish has been out of the rotation since missing about four months with right Achilles soreness. This was the first time he had played meaningful minutes, and he brought the intensity on the defensive end the Hawks have been missing (12 points, 2-3 from 3-point range, five rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block). Reddish is on a minute restriction (he played 23) but that may increase if his body responds well, per McMillan.

“He has length, and he takes pride in defending,” interim Hawks coach Nate McMillan said of Reddish. “He’s one of the few guys in this league that actually; that’s his game. That’s where he draws his energy from. It’s not so much the offensive end of the floor. He comes out from the start wanting to play defense.”

4. After suffering two straight losses, including a brutal blowout in Game 2, this was a much-needed bounce-back from the Hawks, before they hit the road for Game 5. Tying the series 2-2 is a world of difference from going down 3-1 and having to go back to Milwaukee for the next game.

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Injured Hawks guard Trae Young (bottom, left) and the bench react as Kevin Huerter hits a three to extend Atlanta's lead over the Milwaukee Bucks during the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Atlanta. The Hawks evened the series 2-2 with a 110-88 victory. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Injured Hawks guard Trae Young (bottom, left) and the bench react as Kevin Huerter hits a three to extend Atlanta's lead over the Milwaukee Bucks during the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Atlanta. The Hawks evened the series 2-2 with a 110-88 victory. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
caption arrowCaption
Injured Hawks guard Trae Young (bottom, left) and the bench react as Kevin Huerter hits a three to extend Atlanta's lead over the Milwaukee Bucks during the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Atlanta. The Hawks evened the series 2-2 with a 110-88 victory. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

“2-2 is a lot different than 3-1,” Huerter said. “We know we’re guaranteed again to be playing at home in front of our own crowd, and yeah, definitely. 2-2 is a similar position we were last series, a long way to go, but it’s a lot better than being down 3-1.”

5. At just 20 years old, Hawks rookie Onyeka Okongwu continues to play quality minutes on the biggest stage. He battled well and wasn’t pushed around, finishing with seven points, three rebounds and a block.

Stat of the game

46-44 (for the first time in the series, the Hawks outscored the Bucks in the paint)

Star of the game

Williams (filled a key role with Young out, leading the team with 21 points and eight assists, with just one turnover)

Quotable

“It’s not like a Remember the Titans thing that happens in the locker room… Continue to believe. Trae is going to be out tonight, but continue to believe in your abilities and go out and get a win.” (Williams on McMillan telling him he’d be starting, and his message to the team with Young out)

Hawks-Bucks series

Game 1: Hawks 116, Bucks 113

Game 2: Bucks 125, Hawks 91

Game 3: Bucks 113, Hawks 102

Game 4: Hawks 110, Bucks 88

Game 5, Thursday, July 1: Hawks at Bucks, 8:30 p.m., TNT

Game 6, Saturday, July 3: Bucks at Hawks, 8:30 p.m., TNT

Game 7*, Monday, July 5: Hawks at Bucks, 8:30 p.m., TNT

* — If necessary

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