Preview: Bucks at Hawks
ATLANTA — The Hawks are the home team against Milwaukee on Wednesday, but it is the Bucks who will be playing after a good night's sleep in Atlanta.
The Bucks have been idle since a victory over the New Orleans Pelicans in Milwaukee on Saturday, while the Hawks are playing the second half of a back-to-back after stretching their winning streak to five games with a 93-90 victory Tuesday in Miami.
The Hawks (8-2) are 2-0 in the finale of consecutive games this season, following up a loss at Washington with a home victory over Houston and starting their winning streak with victories at Cleveland and at home against Chicago.
Atlanta, though, could be without Dwight Howard against the Bucks (5-4).
The center sustained a left quad contusion late in the third quarter Tuesday against the Heat and didn't return.
After the victory, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer didn't rule out Howard being able to play against the Bucks. That may be a reach, however.
“Dwight took a knee to his knee area or just above his knee,” Budenholzer said. “There's some swelling, and we'll just have to be aggressive in treating him and hopefully getting him ready to play (Wednesday). We'll just see how the next 20 to 24 hours go.”
Howard was to get treatment on the trip back to Atlanta and will have more Wednesday before a decision is made on his status. He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the injury was “super painful.”
One of the keys to the Hawks' good start this season has been their bench, and Mike Muscala likely would get the start if Howard can't go against the Bucks.
Muscala scored 14 points in 22 minutes against the Heat, going 6 of 7 from the floor. He also had five rebounds, four assists and a steal.
Howard would be a major loss if he can't play, though, especially on defense. The Hawks struggled mightily trying to contain Heat center Hassan Whiteside after the 6-foot-11 Howard left, with Paul Millsap finally having to take the role.
Howard, who has been rejuvenated after signing with his hometown Hawks, had 11 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes for his eighth double-double. He came into the Heat game averaging 15.2 points and 12.4 rebounds.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd wouldn't mind at all not having to face Howard.
“He's playing like he did earlier in his career,” the coach told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He's dominating. They're looking for him and they're finding him. He causes a big problem. You put shooters around him, and he causes an even bigger problem.”
The Bucks won the first two of their three games against the Hawks last season, with both victories requiring overtime.
Jabari Parker had 28 points and 13 rebounds in a 117-109 double-OT win in Atlanta after Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 28 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Bucks to a 108-101 victory in Milwaukee.
Antetokounmpo, a 6-foot-11 native of Greece, is off to a breakout start as a 21-year-old in his fourth NBA season. He leads the Bucks in scoring (21.3), rebounds (8.3), blocks (2.1) and steals (2.0) while ranking second in assists (5.3).
In Milwaukee's 106-96 victory over Memphis on Saturday, Antetokounmpo bounced back from a couple of so-so games with 27 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals and four blocks in 30 minutes.
“It felt good,” Antetokounmpo said after the victory. “My teammates wanted me to get back in rhythm, and I did whatever it took to get back in rhythm. They told me from day one they need me.”
The Hawks placed six players in double figures against the Heat and have had at least five reach that level in every game except one.
“I just feel like we have a lot of guys who are playing well right now, a lot of guys playing with a lot of confidence,” Budenholzer said.