Did Bucks find the answer to slow down the Hawks’ Trae Young?
Posted On June 26, 2021
MILWAUKEE – In the two long days between Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has spent a considerable amount of time figuring out ways to slow down the Atlanta Hawks goaltender. Trae Young.
“It’s kind of that fun time of the year where you go up against great series-series players in different ways to test yourself defensively,” Budenholzer said 105 minutes before Game 2 on Friday. “I guess as coaches you’re just trying to see if there’s something that makes sense for our squad, for our players defensively, that puts them in their best position to be successful against a very gifted and talented player.
“It’s the playoff ritual, you know, trying to figure out how to protect great players. It’s part of what I’m sure is great for the fans and I’m sure in a weird way , that’s great for the coaches. It’s a big challenge. A lot of work and time is put into it. “
That work paid off for the Bucks in Game 2 of the series.
They limited Young’s offensive production, forced him into turnovers and ran away with a 125-91 win, tying the series at 1-1.
The question: Did the Bucks find the right defensive game plan to slow Young, who often fought against New York in the first round, Philadelphia in the second and in the first game?
This answer will play out over the course of the series. Much like Milwaukee did between games, the Hawks will be making adjustments for Game 3 at home.
But the Bucks may have found long-term answers. They may have discovered a solution in the fourth quarter of Game 1: keep Young off the track as much as possible, allow him to shoot at 3 points and be physical without committing a foul.
In Game 1, Young scored 16 of his 48 points in the paint, threw alley-oops at John Collins with lobs that look like his floats, and went to the foul line 12 times.
In Game 2, Young had just 15 points, made nine turnovers and made just three free throws. Young is shooting just 23.8% from 3 points in the series and is only 1-for-12 in the past five quarters against the Bucks.
“Just be more active,” Budenholzer said. “We needed everyone to be more active and the guys, they were awesome.”
Bucks 6-3, 205-pound playmaker Jrue Holiday is waist-high on the 6-1 Young, 180 pounds.
“There are times when I have to be physical with him and there are other times when I want him to think I’m going to be physical and take it to the extreme,” Holiday said. “I know he does a thing where he pulls away and comes back into you, certain things like that, sort of playing this game. I was definitely smarter tonight, smarter than the way I was. played the first game. “
Bucks center Brook Lopez also had a much improved defensive outing with three interceptions and one block and did a much better job protecting the rim when Young entered the paint. Five of Young’s turnovers came when Lopez, with his hands and tall frame, disrupted his lane practices.
“He has such a good feel and a good read in pick-and-roll defense,” Budenholzer said. “He was at his best and that’s what we need Brook. He just has great timing, a great understanding of spacing, defensive spacing.”
The Hawks didn’t find this so much of a schematic change it was Milwaukee’s intensity and focus.
“It was really a roll after a roll,” said Hawks caretaker Nate McMillan. “We never really picked up the pace or managed to establish ourselves on the attacking side of the pitch. Good job pressing the ball, pressing the hook, active hands. They mounted it. I expected to what they respond with that kind of intensity, and they did. We just got caught on our heels. “
Young took possession of the sales figures.
“They were just more aggressive,” he said. “They didn’t really change their defensive plan too much. They were more on their rolls, so the perimeter was more open, and I just need to do better readings. I take full responsibility for what happened. tonight. Taking care of the ball is something I need to be better at, and I’ll be better at it. “
Young also received a slight blow to referee Scott Foster and the team of officials for allowing “to do more tonight.”
But it’s also part of playoff basketball. It’s a more physical game at this point in the season, and Milwaukee has brought it in.
Now it’s the Hawks’ turn to respond to the Bucks, and another challenge for a young team that has never been so deep in the playoffs.