Hawks and Bucks rely on next man up

Published July 1, 2021, 12:00 PMJon Carlos Rodriguez

With Trae Young and Giannis Antetokounmpo injured, both the Hawks and the Bucks need to dig deep in their lineup to get a shot at the championship.

Injuries suck.

Let’s just get that fact out of the way so we can all categorically agree that injuries are the worst thing ever. In Game 3 of the matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks, it was Trae Young who went down.

In the third quarter of Game 4, in what should’ve been a routine challenge up top, Giannis Antetokounmpo landed the wrong way and his left knee bent in the worst way. He fell to the floor, grimacing in pain. The entire arena, which just seconds before was rocking, fell silent at the horrific scene. 

Giannis was able to walk out on his own to the locker room, but he took with him all hopes of the Bucks. The Hawks kept pouring on the points after that. The Bucks, rightfully, were rattled by Giannis’ gruesome injury.

That’s how Game 4 will mostly be remembered: how Giannis got hurt at a crucial point of the game and Atlanta pulled away.

But what should also be remembered was how good Atlanta was way before the Giannis injury.

The Hawks played Game 4 without Trae and this gave super sub Lou Williams his first-ever playoff start.

What does Lou do with this opportunity? He turns it into sweet gold. Lou scored 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting, grabbed five rebounds, and dished out seven assists. It was his best game this postseason, the perfect time to do it.

Five other Hawks scored in double figures. That should put the “Hawks go where Trae goes” talk to rest because Trae was on the bench the whole time, not going anywhere, while the Hawks soared for 48 minutes. 

Bogdan Bogdanovic also somehow healed at the best possible time, dropping 20 points. 

It seems like all types of curveballs thrown towards the Hawks, they can hit out of the ball park each and every time. 

The series is now tied at two apiece, both teams back to where they started, but the NBA Finals much, much closer than before. The next couple of games will test not only the character of both squads, but more so the physical limits of playing at a high level every single time.

It’s that time now. Whether or not Giannis and Trae can both shake off the pain and be cleared to play, what will push both teams to the next level will be the next-man-up gene.

It’s what fueled starter LouWill. It’s what gave clutch Khash Middleton his nickname. It’s about everyone chipping in and doing their role.

Whoever steps up first, gets that shot at the championship.


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