Hawks Win on the Road, Force a Game 7 Against the Bucks
But something clicked on Friday. Staring elimination in the face, the Hawks used their defense to stifle the Bucks, and claimed an 83-69 victory in Milwaukee to take back the homecourt advantage, and force a Game 7 in the series.
Atlanta will host the win-or-go-home event this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Phiips Arena.
This one was a defensive struggle from the start, and one that the Bucks seemed comfortable with from the outset. Milwaukee took a 34-31 lead into halftime on the strength of Carlos Delfino's 13 points, even though the team's usual sources of offense -- John Salmons and Brandon Jennings -- were complete non-factors.
And while the Hawks cranked it up offensively in the third quarter, the Bucks were simply unable to keep pace.
Atlanta outscored Milwaukee 29-11 in the third quarter, while the Bucks opened the third with just a single field goal in the period's first eight minutes. By the time they recovered, the Bucks were down 50-38, and finished the quarter trailing by 15 at 60-45.
Milwaukee made a run in the fourth, but it was far too little too late. Trailing by 17 with seven and a half minutes to play, the Bucks went on a 10-0 run to cut it to 69-62 with under five minutes remaining, but back-to-back hoops from Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford quickly pushed the Hawks' lead back to double-digits, and Milwaukee was unable to threaten the rest of the game.
The Hawks got big-time performances from Al Horford and Jamal Crawford, while the Bucks only got a big night from ... Carlos Delfino, who led the team with 20 points, on 8-of-19 shooting, in 43 minutes.
John Salmons and Brandon Jennings -- the pair that the Bucks rely on for offense -- combined to go just 6-of-28 from the field for 20 points.
On paper, the Hawks are the better team, and should be able to close out the Bucks in a Game 7. But Atlanta's melted down at home before, and if Milwaukee's scorers are allowed to get going as they did in Game 5, the final game of this series might truly be up for grabs.