Shortly before Game 4, the Hawks announced that Trae Young would be sidelined with a bone contusion to his foot that he suffered bizarrely while stepping on a referee’s foot in Game 3. Williams a took his place and in the first playoff start of his career scored 21 points, five rebounds and eight assists on 7 of 9 from the field. With the veteran in the lead, the Hawks won a 110-88 victory over the Milwaukee dollars to tie the Eastern Conference final at 2-2.
“When we saw in our starting five that we had Lou Williams, we were a super confident man,” said Bogdan Bogdanovic. “See what this man can do?” Was he thinking of retirement this year? Dude, he can still hoop. “
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s knee injury will naturally be the main topic of discussion in the coming days, but that wasn’t the only reason the Hawks won this game. Keep in mind that they largely dominated the first half and were still up 10 points when Giannis left the game for good.
Much of the Hawks’ success has been led by Williams, who presented not only his best playoff game in this current race, but one of his career best. In the first three ECF games combined, Williams had scored just 13 of 4 of 14 points from the field. He had that many points at half-time in Game 4.
Williams is not Trae Young. He doesn’t have the same speed – at least not at this point in his career – or the same reach on his sweater. But he has similar skills and has enjoyed the same success as Young, having been the focal point of the Hawks’ offense for long stretches. Overall, he has scored or assisted on 15 of the Hawks’ 43 goals (34.8%).
Like Young, Williams is comfortable in the pick and roll, and we’ve seen him take advantage of the Bucks’ drop cover to hit more than a few open jumpers. The three-time sixth man of the year has made a living hitting punches like this.
He also showed off a nice float.
And even a defender in the air on a jumper as if to put the finishing touches on his Young impersonation.
Williams has always been more of a goalscorer, but he also has playing skills and put them to use early and often in this game. He finished with eight assists – the most in a playoff game for him since 2019 – and arguably was unlucky not to hit the double.
He was driving and pushing to open shooters in the perimeter.
And again, just like Young, sliced the Bucks out of the pick-and-roll with lobs to his big guys.
Young’s status for Game 5 and going forward is still unclear, and it goes without saying that the Hawks will want him to return. But if he can’t go, Williams has proven he’s willing and able to take his place.