The last time the Hawks and the Bucks met, Atlanta found themselves down 29 before the start of the second quarter. This meeting was much more pleasing to the eyes, although, the final result was not much different.
On a night that saw Coach Budenholzer honored – along with the Hawks’ three other Coach of the Year award winners – Atlanta was able to keep it competitive for the first three quarters. Even with an unusual starting lineup, all five starters finished in double-figures, led by Trae Young’s 26 points. Young also added a career-high ten rebounds, giving him his first NBA double-double with points and rebounds.
However, the story of the night was Omari Spellman. After spending a stint in the G-League, Spellman started for Atlanta in just his second game back. He scored thirteen points on four of nine shooting, including four of seven from three-point range in thirty minutes of action. He also added four blocks.
After the game, Spellman didn’t hold back on why he fell out of the rotation and eventually was sent to the G-League. “Pretty much, I was fat,” Spellman told Chris Vivlamore of the AJC, citing that as the reason for him not living up to his potential. He went on to say he has lost over twenty pounds since he started working on cutting weight and there is still plenty of room for improvement.
The Hawks drafted Spellman with the 30th overall pick in the draft. Before that, Spellman was a freshman on Villanova’s national championship team. He was a key piece to that team as a freshman, but he is quickly learning there is a lot more responsibility at this level.
Another promising sign was the return of Taurean Prince. Prince missed over a month with a severe ankle injury. As expected, the Hawks took it easy with him in his first game back. He only played in eleven minutes off the bench, scoring seven points and reeling in five boards.
But once again, the Hawks failed on the defensive end, allowing 133 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo put up his typically gaudy stat line of 33 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Eric Bledsoe added 24 on nine of thirteen shooting, and Kris Middleton finished with a double-double.
Under the guidance of Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks have turned into a legitimate championship contender. We are finally getting the opportunity to see what he can do with a real superstar talent. The win inched the Bucks closer to the Raptors for the top spot in the East.
On the other hand, the Hawks are now 13-30, good for the fifth worst record in the NBA.