After getting deeply embarrassed in Game 2, the Atlanta Hawks came out of the gates strong in their bid to retake a series lead.
Trae Young wasn’t messing around, as he opened the game with a 14-point first quarter, shooting 6 of 9 as the Hawks built up to a 15-point lead. The Bucks weren’t going to take it lying down, though, as they went on 17-7 run to cut the deficit to 32-27. Milwaukee continued to roar back into life in the second quarter, and by the end of the period had tied the game at 56-56.
Young was much quieter in the second quarter, only scoring three points but providing some assists to his teammates. The Hawks continued to keep it close in the third quarter as Young got hot again and had a total of 32 by the end of the period. He had an unfortunate incident at the end of the quarter though, where he stepped on a referee’s foot and tweaked his ankle. He was slow to get up off the floor and went to the locker room for treatment.
The fourth quarter was set up for a big one, as the Hawks carried a narrow 85-83 lead heading into the final period.
Young didn’t start the quarter, as he was receiving treatment for the ankle tweak, but the Hawks managed to hold on and produce for their leader. He came back into the game with 8:44 left, but was visibly hampered by his injury.
Even with Young ailing on the court, the Bucks were still behind. Or at least they were, until Khris Middleton decided to go nuclear.
The Bucks rode Middleton in the fourth quarter as he went wild from the field and scored 20 points in the period with an array of dazzling shots that helped the Bucks take a 101-98 lead with 5:05 left in the game. Middleton was single-handedly responsible for erasing a 7-point Hawks lead, and gave the Bucks a 105-100 lead with 3:21 left.
Things didn’t improve for the Hawks for the rest of the game, as Middleton seemingly couldn’t miss. He outscored the Hawks by himself in the final stanza to finish with 38 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists on 15 of 26 shooting (6 of 12 from three).
Middleton’s heroics in the fourth won them the game, but it was Giannis Antetokounmpo that helped keep the Bucks alive before that. The Greek Freak had himself a fine game as well with 33 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block while shooting 13 of 21 from the field.
The Hawks were overwhelmed in the paint by the Bucks, who had an 56-34 scoring advantage in that area. Milwaukee were also dominant on the boards and out rebounded Atlanta 50-35.
Now, with the uncertainty about Young’s injury, the Bucks have regained the momentum in the series and taken back home court advantage. If Middleton continues his resurgence for the next few games, it’s going to be tough to stop the Bucks from making the NBA Finals.