‘He is giving us everything:’ Bogdanovic pushing through knee soreness

For the last two-and-a-half months of the regular season, a healthy Bogdan Bogdanovic thrived.

He settled into an elite 3-point shooting pace (leading the Eastern Conference with 129 3′s made since April 1), acted as a vital secondary creator beside Trae Young and was a solid defender for the Hawks, as well.

The past few games of this postseason run, though, after tweaking his knee toward the end of the semifinals vs. the 76ers, Bogdanovic clearly hasn’t looked like himself, pulled from Game 6 on June 18 with right knee soreness. But, he continues to fight through it and give the Hawks minutes, even if shots aren’t falling, as evidenced by the 27 minutes he gutted out in the Hawks’ 116-113 win vs. the Bucks in Game 1 on Wednesday.

“He is giving us everything,” McMillan said of Bogdanovic’s efforts. “It’s pretty obvious that there’s some soreness there, but this is the way this team has been built. He does not want to sit out. He’s trying to give us whatever minutes he can give us, and it really has helped us the last few games, being able to have him out there, because he’s still a threat.”

“... What he has given us in the last few games has been a difference in us winning these games. He still is able to raise his arms and let that ball fly. Defensively, he’s still giving us some good play on the defensive end of the floor, and I think last night he gave us 20 minutes. Absolutely, having him out on the floor helps us tremendously.”

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On Wednesday, Bogdanovic had four points, three rebounds and two assists in 27 minutes, with three steals and two turnovers, going 1-for-6 from the field and 0-for-2 from 3-point range. He was listed as “questionable” with right knee soreness and was a game-time decision beforehand.

Across the last three games of the semifinals vs. Philly, Bogdanovic shot 28.6% from the field and went 1-for-14 from 3-point range, averaging 5.7 points in 23.7 minutes. That’s obviously a significant dip from the 21.9 points and 48.5% 3-point percentage he averaged in April, but Bogdanovic still provides value out on the court for the Hawks, since he commands attention from the defense and has been active on defense.

For his part, considering the way the series the Bucks started, Bogdanovic said he felt “amazing.” But, when watching him, it’s clear he’s not 100% and is lacking his usual burst and rhythm. This flare-up isn’t related to the right avulsion fracture he suffered in January.

“I feel amazing, especially after the win last night. ... It is what it is,” Bogdanovic said. “I don’t want to just talk about the knee and stuff. I feel like I did my job as far as I can.

“... I can still help. Maybe not as much as I could before, but maybe that’s also our game plan, so I’m still who I am on the floor. They can’t help off me like that, and I feel that gives us another weapon on offense, that gives us a lot better spacing as well, and I think I’m playing solid defense, too.”

The Hawks still need Bogdanovic, wing Kevin Huerter said, even if he’s pushing through some knee issues.

“He’s a smart player,” Huerter said. “Obviously just really good at the game of basketball, just knowing the game and being in the right spots. He’s out there on one leg. He’s gutting it out for us right now, and I’m sure he wants to be out there more, but just having him and his presence on the court, to still be a shooting threat. Defenses obviously still have to prepare for him. And making the right plays; defensively he had a couple big steals for us.

“Just being in the fight, we still need that from him, for sure. It’s big. There might be one of these games where the leg feels better than it does the day before, and he goes off for a Bogi type of game.”