NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Game 4 win showed Hawks strength in depth - Williams

By Sports Desk June 30, 2021

Lou Williams says the Atlanta Hawks showed their strength in depth in the Game 4 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Hawks moved level at 2-2 in the Eastern Conference finals with a 110-88 win without Trae Young at State Farm Arena on Tuesday.

Young was ruled out after spraining his ankle when he stepped on a referee's ankle in Game 3.

Atlanta showed they can cope without 2020 All-Star Young on a painful evening for the Bucks, who lost Giannis Antetokounmpo when he suffered a hyperextended left knee.

Williams was charged with the task of replacing Young and top scored for the Hawks with 21 points and eight assists, while Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 20 points.

 

Asked about being named as a starter, shooting guard Williams said: "It's not a big adjustment. You just know your minutes are going to go up, the time of the games is going to be different.

"Other than that, you just get ready to play a basketball game. We've got to be pros. I know it's cliche to hear, but one guy goes down, another guy got to step up."

Williams revealed there was no rousing speech from Hawks coach Nate McMillan when he was informed he would be starting.

"Honestly, I was on the training table, Nate walked up, said, 'Trae is going to be out, so I'm going to start you.' I said okay, and he walked off.

"That was the conversation. It's not like a 'Remember the Titans' thing that happens in the locker room. I promise you it don't. That was it. That was the extent of our conversation, and we got ready for the game."

McMillan is unsure if Young will return in Game 5 on Thursday.

"I don't know," McMillan said. "The report was just tonight he's out. He didn't feel comfortable enough to put pressure on his foot tonight. I'll get a report tomorrow, and I'm sure it'll be a game-time decision."

Related items

  • Embiid asks 76ers fans to support Simmons: He's still our brother Embiid asks 76ers fans to support Simmons: He's still our brother

    Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid made an impassioned plea for fans to support team-mate Ben Simmons amid his continued absence.

    Simmons is yet to feature for the 76ers this NBA season, sitting out Friday's clash with Eastern Conference rivals the Brooklyn Nets, having been suspended for Wednesday's opener against the New Orleans Pelicans due to "conduct detrimental to the team".

    The three-time All-Star has sought a trade away from the 76ers following last season's shock playoff exit to the Atlanta Hawks, while he was reportedly ejected from Tuesday's practice as head coach Doc Rivers grew frustrated with his lack of engagement.

    After a meeting between Simmons, Embiid and the rest of the team, last season's MVP runner-up threw his support behind the former number one pick prior to tip-off against the Nets in Philadelphia.

    "I urge you guys to continue to support us and our team-mate Ben, because he's still our brother," Embiid said as he grabbed the microphone on court.

    Following the meeting, ESPN reported Simmons notified the 76ers he was not mentally ready to play and needed time to step away.

    "I felt good up and down throughout and I kept saying that, things do change," Rivers told reporters pre-game.

    "That still doesn't mean it's gonna work out perfect or it could, but I always believed that. I've never wavered from that. I've said that 100 times and I still stick with it."

    Rivers added: "It was a productive day, but it's a start. That's the only way you can get going, you gotta start, and today was a start."

    Simmons – an elite defender who signed a five-year, $177.2million contract extension in 2019 – and his shooting problems were laid bare during the 2021 postseason with the top-seeded 76ers, who were eliminated in the semi-finals.

    The 25-year-old had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs against the Hawks last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star, according to Stats Perform.

    Simmons averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It was the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career-worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

    Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

    "He is part of the team," he continued. "We have certain rules, obviously, the other day, that didn't happen, but today was a good day.

    "Most people, we look at problems instead of the possibilities and I think if we focus on the possibilities, just in life in general, you have a pretty good chance of going to a good place. If you focus on the problems, you're probably gonna continue to have problems."

  • Simmons out of Nets clash but 76ers coach Rivers positive after 'productive' meeting Simmons out of Nets clash but 76ers coach Rivers positive after 'productive' meeting

    Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said while disgruntled All-Star Ben Simmons remains away from the team, he took positives from Friday's meeting.

    Simmons – who has demanded a trade – was suspended for Wednesday's NBA season-opening win over the New Orleans Pelicans due to "conduct detrimental to the team" following reports he was ejected from practice after Rivers grew frustrated with his lack of engagement.

    The Australian has also been ruled out of Friday's showdown with star-studded Eastern Conference rivals the Brooklyn Nets at Wells Fargo Center.

    Reports of a meeting between Simmons, Rivers and his team-mates emerged on Friday, with ESPN claiming the former number one pick was not mentally ready to play and needed time to step away.

    Speaking afterwards and prior to tip-off against the Nets, Rivers told reporters: "I felt good up and down throughout and I kept saying that, things do change.

    "That still doesn't mean it's gonna work out perfect or it could, but I always believed that. I've never wavered from that. I've said that 100 times and I still stick with it."

    Rivers added: "It was a productive day, but it's a start. That's the only way you can get going, you gotta start, and today was a start."

    Simmons – an elite defender who signed a five-year, $177.2million contract extension in 2019 – and his shooting problems were laid bare during the 2021 postseason with the top-seeded 76ers, who were eliminated in the semi-finals.

    The 25-year-old had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs against the Hawks last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star, according to Stats Perform.

     

    Simmons averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It was the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career-worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

    Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

    "He is part of the team," he continued. "We have certain rules, obviously, the other day, that didn't happen, but today was a good day.

    "Most people, we look at problems instead of the possibilities and I think if we focus on the possibilities, just in life in general, you have a pretty good chance of going to a good place. If you focus on the problems, you're probably gonna continue to have problems."

    Including the playoffs, Philadelphia are 9-2 in their last 11 games against the Nets. Additionally, the 76ers have six straight home wins in the series, starting with Game 2 of the first round of the 2019 postseason.

    Four Philadelphia players scored 20-plus points against New Orleans, with Joel Embiid and Furkan Korkmaz each having 22 and Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey finishing with 20. The 76ers had zero games last season with four 20-plus point scorers, according to Stats Perform.

  • Budenholzer accepts Bucks 'got our butts kicked' but vowed 'we're just getting started' Budenholzer accepts Bucks 'got our butts kicked' but vowed 'we're just getting started'

    Mike Budenholzer accepted the Milwaukee Bucks "got our butts kicked" by the Miami Heat but insisted the NBA champions are just getting started.

    Even accounting for the absence of Jrue Holiday (right heel), Brook Lopez (back) and Bobby Portis (left hamstring), the Bucks were wildly out of sorts in a 137-95 rout, which marked the Heat's season opener.

    A 19-0 stretch early in the first had Miami 22-3 ahead. By the end of the first quarter, it was 40-17 and by half-time Milwaukee trailed 72-43.

    Bucks coach Budenholzer made no excuses when addressing reporters after the game.

    "We'll get some of the guys back and every team is going to deal with this at different points, most likely," he said. 

    "It's a long journey and we're just getting started.

    "We got our butts kicked. That happens in the NBA."

    Tyler Herro had 27 points from the bench, which matched a record for any Heat player as a reserve playing 25 minutes or less.

    The Heat's 137 points was a franchise benchmark for opening night, which was previously 128 against the Detroit Pistons in 1999, while it was their biggest margin of victory for a first game of a season, falling just short of the overall record of 43 points set against the Los Angeles Clippers in 1994.

    It meant a measure of revenge given the Bucks routed the Heat 4-0 in the first round of the playoffs last season.

    "Last year, we felt like we got embarrassed," Herro said.

    "I mean, 137's a lot. Hopefully, we can see that a lot this season."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.