Trae Young might play in the backcourt, but he will be the center of attention Sunday night when the Atlanta Hawks host the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The series is tied at 1-1, and Young’s performance in each game has dictated Atlanta’s outcome. He lifted the Hawks to a 116-113 win in Game 1 with a whopping 48 points and 11 assists, but he followed that with 15 points on 6-for-16 shooting as the Bucks pulled even with a 125-91 victory in Game 2.
Now, as the best-of-seven series shifts to Atlanta, Young is eager to bounce back.
“It’s exciting to be able to go back home,” Young said. “We wanted to steal one on the road; we did that. So now to go home, playing in front of our fans in the Eastern Conference finals, it’s going to be loud, it’s going to be a lot of people there, it’s going to be fun. …
“All we hope for is a chance to bounce back, and we get one. We’ve just got to be ready.”
Young leads the Hawks with 29.4 points and 9.9 assists per game in 14 games during these playoffs. He is shooting 42 percent from the field and 31.5 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
John Collins is next on the Hawks’ playoff scoring list with 14.4 points per game. Bogdan Bogdanovic averages 12.6 points, while Danilo Gallinari (12.2) and Kevin Huerter (11.4) round out the top five.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Bucks’ top playoff scorer with 28.9 points per game to go along with a team-high 13.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists. He is shooting 54 percent from the field, but that success has not translated to the free-throw line, where he is shooting 56.2 percent (59 of 105).
Khris Middleton ranks second for Milwaukee with 22.0 points per game to go along with 7.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists during the postseason. Jrue Holiday (17.1 points), Brook Lopez (12.8) and Bryn Forbes (8.1) are third, fourth and fifth in playoff scoring.
This is the third playoff series in a row in which the Hawks have been tied 1-1 entering Game 3. In the quarterfinals they pulled away for a 105-94 win over the New York Knicks in Game 3, but in the semifinals they lost Game 3 to the Philadelphia 76ers 127-111 before rallying later in the series.
Meanwhile, the Bucks are looking to improve to 3-0 in Game 3s during the postseason. They cruised to a 113-84 win over the Miami Heat en route to a four-game sweep in the quarterfinals, and held on for an 86-83 win over the Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of the semifinals to jump-start a series comeback.
Atlanta is 3-2 at home during the playoffs. Milwaukee is 3-3 on the road.
“You’ve got to dig deep,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Stay together. It’s good. The road can be good for you. It’s certainly a challenge, but this group has won on the road, and that’s what we need to do.”
–Field Level Media