Two of the NBA’s top scorers will be in the spotlight Monday when the Atlanta Hawks host the Milwaukee Bucks as part of the league’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration.
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo ranks third in scoring at a 28.5-point clip and Atlanta’s Trae Young is No. 4 at 27.6.
Antetokounmpo, a two-time league MVP, scored 30 points Saturday in a 103-96 loss to the Toronto Raptors. He has scored 30-plus points in seven of his last eight games, and in the 16 games since the beginning of December, he has averaged 30.4 points and 10.7 rebounds.
Young scored 29 points in Saturday’s 117-108 loss to the New York Knicks. After breaking Dominique Wilkins’ club record by scoring 25-plus points in 17 consecutive games, he was held under that mark three games in succession before posting the 29.
Over his past 20 games, Young has averaged 30 points and 9.6 assists.
Neither team is trending in the right direction. Milwaukee has lost five of its last seven while the Hawks have lost five in a row and 10 consecutive home games.
“We’ve just got to find a way, you know,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said. “We’ve got to put together a solid 48-minute game and we haven’t been able to do that. We’re playing 24, 46, 40 minutes, so we’ve got to put together a 48-minute game.”
Atlanta has been hurt by the absence of center Clint Capela, who has missed four games with a sprained ankle. Without Capela, who averages 11.8 points, 13.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, the Hawks have relied on Gorgui Dieng and Onyeka Okongwu, the team’s 2020 first-round draft choice.
The extra playing time seems to have benefited Okongwu, who had 12 points and five rebounds against the Knicks. He also had a highlight-reel block of Julius Randle’s dunk. Okongwu didn’t play until Dec. 17 because of offseason shoulder surgery,
Okongwu’s energy seemed to lift Atlanta’s second unit on Saturday and helped the Hawks reduce a 17-point second half deficit to two points. Veterans Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams aided the comeback with some timely baskets.
Atlanta was also without Bogdan Bogdanovic (right knee soreness), but he could play on Monday.
Milwaukee was without Jrue Holiday for the fifth straight game because of a sore left ankle. Holiday practiced on Friday, but did not play on Saturday, and could return on Monday. He averages 18.4 points and 6.7 assists and scored 19 in the first meeting with Atlanta.
Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said he wasn’t ready to rush Holiday back into the lineup.
“We need to think about the big picture with him,” Budenholzer said. “It’s the ankle that’s given him a little bit of problems this year, so I think more time is better.”
This will be the second of three meetings between the teams this season. The Hawks won 120-100 on Nov. 14, with Young scoring 42, including eight 3-pointers, with 10 assists, and Antetokounmpo scoring 26.
–Field Level Media