The last time the Atlanta Hawks visited Milwaukee, they bounced back from a blowout loss to the Bucks a night earlier and began the longest win streak in franchise history.
Now the Hawks return to the Bradley Center looking for history to repeat itself following their worst setback since the one that preceded their impressive run.
In a matchup of two of the NBA’s most surprising teams, the Hawks will try to avoid their first three-game slide since last March while denying the red-hot Bucks an eighth consecutive home win Sunday.
Jared Dudley scored 24 points on 10-of-10 shooting and Milwaukee (31-23) shot 50.6 percent in a 107-77 win at Philips Arena on Dec. 26 that remains Atlanta’s second-worst loss of the season behind a 33-point defeat at Cleveland on Nov. 15.
The Hawks (43-12), however, bounced right back the next night in Milwaukee, limiting the Bucks to 38.8 percent shooting in a 90-85 win that started their 19-game streak. All-Stars Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Paul Millsap combined for 62 points and 25 rebounds.
Although it still owns a healthy lead over second-place Toronto in the Eastern Conference, Atlanta looks to respond in similar fashion after falling to 3-4 since the streak with Friday’s 105-80 home loss to the Raptors.
The Hawks, who hadn’t dropped two in a row since mid-November, committed a season high-tying 23 turnovers and shot a season-worst 33.0 percent. Coach Mike Budenholzer, though, believes his team’s problems lie on the defensive end.
Since allowing an average of 93.6 points during its streak, Atlanta has allowed opponents to score 102.9 per game over the last seven.
"You have to rely on your defense when you’re not making shots and I don’t think we were good on the defensive end of the court," Budenholzer said. "I’m more concerned with the shots they were getting, the second opportunities they were getting and the loose balls they were getting."
The Bucks were short-handed Friday due in part to a trade before their first game following the All-Star break, but that didn’t keep them from picking up their fourth straight victory and seventh straight at home, 89-81 over visiting Denver.
Milwaukee, which has won nine of 10 overall, hasn’t run off eight straight home victories since Feb. 20-March 22, 2010.
Khris Middleton and John Henson teamed for 29 points, though Giannis Antetokounmpo had 10 on 3-of-13 shooting after averaging 18.2 on 60.3 percent over his previous five games.
"We’re a young team, so to be able to handle a trade, to handle All-Star weekend, to handle coming back and having meaningful games – there’s a lot to digest for a 20-year-old," coach Jason Kidd said. "As a team, we’re all going to go through this and we’re here to help each other. We’re going to need (Antetokounmpo) to bounce back against Atlanta."
Michael Carter-Williams, acquired from Philadelphia on Thursday, is likely to remain sidelined with a toe injury. Miles Plumlee, however, could make his debut after averaging 4.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 54 games with the Suns.
The Bucks will try to continue locking down on Kyle Korver, who missed nine of 11 from long range Friday. The All-Star owns a league-best 51.1 3-point percentage, but has totaled nine points on 3-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc in the season series.
Millsap has played well versus Milwaukee, averaging 19.5 points and 9.8 boards in five games dating to his time with Utah.
The Hawks have won their past five visits to the Bradley Center.