Led by 32 points at halftime, the Hawks opened the third quarter without a shot, the ball ending in Trae Young’s hands as the clock rang.
In the first game, Young was majestic, scoring 48 points in a first win. But as the Bucks focused on the pressure of the ball on Friday night, Young struggled in Game 2, flipping it nine times, including 8 in the first half, as the Bucks headed for a 125 victory. -91, the evening of the series at 1-1.
“It’s all on me,” Young said. “I have to be better at taking care of the ball. And do a better job of at least giving us a shot and not turning it over too much. And I have to do better and I will be better in the next game. “
There was a lot of talk about the Bucks’ defensive scheme in Game 1, which saw them largely stick with declining coverage as Young bypassed screens and descended for a series of floats. But Young said there hasn’t been a lot of adjustment to how the Bucks are keeping him – they just upped the intensity.
“They haven’t done anything too different,” he said. “They just played more aggressive. Scott [Foster] and they allowed more to go tonight. So you just have to be better and be able to respond better to that. “
After taking nine fouls in Game 1, Young took only one in Game 2, least for Young in any game this season, in the regular season or in the playoffs. Young’s foul arose in the type of play the competition committee will explore for a rule change, where he stopped short on a pull-up jumper and allowed a defender to strike his back.
“A lot of it is how the refs are going to call him tonight,” Young said. “If they’re going to let them be aggressive, they’re going to let them be aggressive. If they’re not – I mean they’re going to call it what it’s supposed to be, then that would be different. But sometimes it’s called that, and when they’re aggressive and they don’t call it, nights like tonight happen.
Young finished with 15 points on 6 of 16 shots, including 1 in 8 on 3 points, with just three assists. Even two of the 3 Young would have touched turned into 2 due to a toe on the line.
“It was just one of those nights, and sometimes it just happens like that,” Young said. “Sounds like it happened tonight, but we have to be able to bounce back. “
Jrue Holiday, who made the All-Defensive first team this season, kept Young in 29 of 47 games in the first half, Young going 2 of 8 off the floor with six turnovers on those possessions. With the two out in the fourth quarter, Young finished 3 of 11 with Holiday as his main defender against 3 of 5 against all the other Buckets.
“I think I played smarter tonight. I played smarter than the last game, ”Holiday said. “There are times when I have to be physical with him and there are other times when I want him to think that I’m going to be physical and that I could go under a screen. I think I was definitely smarter than the way I played in the first game. ”
Hawks coach Nate McMillan had a different take on the game.
“I didn’t think Jrue had done anything other than stay focused on Trae, contain the ball, be right there,” he said. “We have to do a better job of filtering when you have that kind of pressure on the ball. “
The Bucks played smaller more often than in Game 1. Forward Bobby Portis replaced early to play center minutes and threw pick-and-rolls with Young and stayed on him with switches. Portis played 18 minutes in Game 2, practically all in the middle.
“They haven’t really changed their defensive plan too much,” Young said. “They were more on the rollers, so the perimeter was more open, and I just need to do better readings. I take full responsibility for everything that happened tonight. Taking care of the ball is something I need to be better at, and I’ll be better at it. They really just increased their physique, and we have to do the same. “
Young has propelled a number of defensive looks and leading defenders into this playoff, putting together outrageous numbers and clutch performance. Despite the bad night in Game 2, he said he was confident he would sort out what the Bucks were throwing at him.
“I mean, every set has been physical,” he said. “The Knicks and Sixers are two of the top three defenses in the league. The Sixers had three All-Defensive players on their team. I’ve seen defensemen’s physique all through the playoffs, and that’s nothing new. I just have to be able to react and be better in the next game. “
The message in the Hawks’ locker room was to focus on the sum of the whole, not to isolate yourself on the poor performance in Game 2. The Hawks got the division any team on the road wanted to open a series. , bringing home an even series in Atlanta for Game 3. Plus, it’s familiar territory for the Hawks, who were 1-1 and came home in the first two series they won that playoff.
“Anytime you can hit .500 on the road, that’s a good thing, especially in the playoffs,” McMillan said. “We had the opportunity to get two, we had one, so we’re happy with it. But there is another level that we have to reach from where we are right now. We are playing for a trip to the final. They showed us that there is another level that we have to reach in order to win games and progress. “
McMillan added, “We know we’re better than that. The message to the team is that we have to be able to take that next step, to raise our level of play. This sense of urgency that we talked about, this team has shown us that they are a very good team. , and there is another level that we have to reach in order to be successful against them. ”