The No. 3 seed Bucks were more physical and aggressive, handing the No. 5 seed Hawks a 123-112 loss in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals Thursday in Milwaukee.

Next up, Game 6 will be at 8:30 p.m. Saturday back in Atlanta, at State Farm Arena.

Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. This loss means the Hawks trail the Bucks 3-2 in the series and face elimination if they can’t force a Game 7, as Milwaukee only needs one more win to advance to the NBA Finals. Fortunately, the Hawks return home to Atlanta. Pushed around in Thursday’s loss, they’ll have to bounce back strong in Game 6.

“I expect us to respond,” interim Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “It’s do or die now. ... It’s a one-game season for us. So we know what we have to do. We’ve got to get back home and get ourselves ready to take care of business at home.”

2. Because of the right foot bone bruise he sustained in Game 3, Trae Young was unable to play for the second game in a row, and Lou Williams again started in his stead (finishing with 17 points, five assists and six turnovers). The Hawks certainly missed Young’s production and directing traffic, but overall, scoring wasn’t the problem — the Bucks came out with more energy and aggression from the get-go, quickly jumping out to a 20-point lead, and the Hawks couldn’t match that. That meant they were playing catch-up the whole game. And they couldn’t defend the paint, making climbing back into the game harder.

“They hit us in the mouth, and we just did not recover from that,” McMillan said. “They were aggressive. Twenty-eight points in the paint in the first quarter. No defense on the ball, no defense off the ball, weak side help was not there. They were the more physical, more aggressive team from start to finish tonight.”

Hawks guards Bogdan Bogdanovic (left) and Kevin Huerter can't stop Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez from going to the basket for two of his 33 points during the first quarter in game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Milwaukee.   “Curtis Compton /”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

3. The Hawks weren’t the only team missing their star, with the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo out after hyperextending his left knee in Game 4. That didn’t stop them from dominating in the paint, 66-36, with absolutely no answer for Brook Lopez, who led the Bucks with 33 points. Khris Middleton had 26 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and two steals, Jrue Holiday had 25 points and 13 assists and Bobby Portis had 22 points, eight rebounds and three steals.

4. For the second game now, Bogdan Bogdanovic has looked like his old self, which bodes well for the Hawks going into Game 6. He had been struggling with right knee soreness that threw his shooting and mobility off-kilter. He bested a playoff-high six 3′s in Game 4 with seven 3′s in Game 5, leading the Hawks in scoring with 28 points, to go with five rebounds and four assists.

“When Bogi hits shots, it’s a game changer, just flat-out,” John Collins (19 points, eight rebounds) said of Bogdanovic. “We love having him on the court. Obviously when he’s making shots as well, he’s a sniper, and he helps us out a lot.”

5. The Hawks got another solid game from Cam Reddish, who is progressing back from missing about four months with right Achilles soreness. He gave them some good minutes on defense and tallied seven points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.

Stat of the game

20 (the deficit the Hawks fell into in the first quarter, which proved too large to overcome)

Star of the game

Lopez (dominated in the paint on his way to a game-high 33 points; was a plus-17)


“Guard. It’s as simple as — this is not complicated.” (McMillan on how the Hawks can guard the paint better in Game 6)