McMillan says Hawks ‘have to play harder’ after Game 2 loss to Bucks

Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan tries to get his players' attention on defense against the Milwaukee Bucks.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan tries to get his players' attention on defense against the Milwaukee Bucks. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals devolved into an ugly blowout, with the No. 3 seed Bucks dominating the No. 5 seed Hawks, 125-91, Friday in Milwaukee. The series is tied 1-1.

1. After the Hawks stole Game 1 on the road Wednesday, Game 2 was over in a hurry, with the Bucks taking complete control via a 20-0 run in the second quarter. With the Bucks leading by 40, zero starters for either team played any minutes in the fourth quarter. By far, Milwaukee played with more intensity, delivering a strong response and dominating on both ends of the floor — this loss showed Atlanta the level it’ll have to reach to win the series, per interim Hawks coach Nate McMillan. The Hawks looked completely out-of-sorts on both ends, unable to contain on defense and taking the ball out of the basket on offense, with 20 turnovers, shooting 25% from 3-point range.

“You’re playing for a trip to the finals,” McMillan said. “They showed us that there’s another level that we have to get to in order to win games and advance. … We have to play harder. That intensity that they came out with wasn’t a surprise to us. But they showed that there’s another level that we have to get to. They totally just dominated the entire game.”

2. Turnovers devastated the Hawks in Game 2. After registering 11 turnovers in all of their Game 1 win Wednesday, the Hawks had 13 by halftime of Friday’s loss (the Bucks capitalized off 20 Atlanta turnovers with 25 points). The Bucks cranked up the pressure defensively, with Jrue Holiday (22 points, seven assists) playing aggressive defense on Trae Young (the scheme wasn’t very different, Young said, it was just the defense upping the intensity). Young tied a career-high with nine turnovers and could never establish a rhythm, after putting up 48 points in Game 1. He tallied a playoff-low 15 points, and that led the Hawks in scoring.

“I take complete responsibility for what happened tonight,” Young said. “Taking care of the ball is something I’ve got to be better at, and I will be better at it. It’s really just they just upped their physicality tonight, and we’ve got to do the same.”

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Hawks players John Collins, Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Clint Capela look for answers. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Hawks players John Collins, Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Clint Capela look for answers.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
Hawks players John Collins, Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Clint Capela look for answers. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

3. As dreadful as this loss was, the Hawks still go back home to Atlanta for games 3 and 4 with the series tied 1-1. Stealing Game 1 on the road and dropping Game 2 (still on the road) is the same pattern the Hawks followed in their first-round series vs. the Knicks (which they won in five) and the Eastern Conference semifinal series vs. the 76ers (which they won in seven).

4. Again, the Bucks dominated in the paint. They had 70 points in the paint in Game 1 and had 62 in Game 2, scoring 30 points in the paint themselves. Giannis Antetokounmpo was a huge part of that. In just 29 minutes of play, he led Milwaukee in scoring with 25 points, adding nine rebounds, six assists and two steals.

5. Cam Reddish, who has struggled with right Achilles soreness for months, played in a Hawks game for the first time since Feb. 21. He subbed in with the Hawks down 15 later in the second quarter. McMillan had said that both Solomon Hill and Tony Snell were ahead of Reddish in the rotation, but this game turning into a blowout early presented a scenario for Reddish to get some low-stress minutes. This was the first time Reddish had played 5-on-5 since he started missing games, per McMillan, and the goal was simply to get him a little playing time to get acclimated. He finished with 11 points and two rebounds in 17 minutes.

Bucks 125, Hawks 91 (box score)

Stat of the game

27 (the amount of fast-break points the Bucks tallied, as they dominated in transition)

Star of the game

Holiday (picked up the defensive intensity on Young, in addition to tallying 22 points and seven assists)

Quotable

“We knew how desperate they needed this one. As the game went on, it felt like they were hitting everything and we just couldn’t get a shot to drop. … We’ve got to be able to bounce back.” (Young on the Hawks preparing for Game 3)