We’ve been showering Nate McMillan with praise on this site, and he deserves every second of it. Even without Trae Young in Game 4, the Hawks put on an offensive clinic against the Bucks. What was even more impressive was that Atlanta held Milwaukee to 38 points in the first half, their best performance since they held the Celtics to 33 points in 2016. I talked about how Atlanta’s team defense has become a strength rather than a liability, and the individual numbers back that up. With Cam Reddish and Kris Dunn getting minutes now, the intensity from Nate McMillan’s squad has ramped up even more:
Hawks defensive rating leaders in the Conference Finals:
(minimum 10.0 mins/game)
— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) June 30, 2021
I really loved the Kris Dunn signing at the time, and although he only played in four regular-season games, he picked a good time to show up for the Hawks. The same can be said for Cam Reddish, but I predicted his impact on Twitter before Game 1:
Just gonna leave this here since Cam Reddish is listed as questionable. Getting his defense back could be a HUGE boost for the Hawks pic.twitter.com/RCrS3YtMMB
— SportsTalkATL Jake (@cantguardjake) June 23, 2021
Obviously, the Hawks were playing solid defense before these two made their playoff debuts, but with De’Andre Hunter out, the impact they bring is even more critical. Reddish gave Khris Middleton fits, and Giannis was limited to 14 points before exiting with an injury. Kris Dunn can work on another talented defensive guard in Jrue Holiday, which will be important whether Trae Young plays tonight or doesn’t. Having him chase around Holiday on a bad ankle probably isn’t the best idea if he does. One thing is for sure… if Bogdan Bogdanović plays like he did on Tuesday and the Hawks can nail open shots — their defense can carry this team to a win and one home game away from an NBA Finals appearance.
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