Both times they persevered.
In a game of runs, the Bucks mounted a pair of rallies and rode a hot Khris Middleton down the stretch to secure a 113-102 Game 3 win over the Hawks. With the win, they took a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
In addition to the loss, the Hawks carry concern from Game 3 about star guard Trae Young, who sprained his right ankle late in the third quarter. He played in the fourth, but was largely ineffective as the Bucks rallied for victory after he returned to the court.
The Hawks started the game hot, bouncing back from Friday’s Game 2 dud to take a 25-10 lead midway through the first quarter in front on an energized home crowd. Young led the charge with a 17-point first-half. But Giannis Antetokounmpo took control of the paint in a 16-point first half to rally Milwaukee to a 56-56 tie at halftime.
The Hawks again opened the half strong in the third quarter as a pair of Young 3-pointers led Atlanta to a 70-63 lead. Young continued to hit and pull up from deep as the Hawks maintained the lead deep into the third quarter. Then Young’s fortune took a turn for the worse late in the third.
After throwing an errant pass from the sideline that Bucks forward Bobby Portis intercepted, Young took a step back to get in defensive position. Instead, he stepped on a referees’s foot and crumpled to the floor.
He left for the locker room with Atlanta leading, 85-82 and was diagnosed with a sprained ankle. His absence was short-lived. Trainers taped up his ankle, and Young returned to the court early in the fourth after his teammates extended the lead to 93-88. From there, the Bucks took over.
A pair of Middleton 3-pointers helped the Bucks to a 96-95 lead with 6:14 remaining, and the Bucks wouldn’t trail again. While Young managed just three points after his return, Atlanta had no answers for Middleton, whose 20-point fourth-quarter barrage overwhelmed the home team.
The All-Star guard finished with a game-high 38 points alongside 11 rebounds and seven assists. He connected on 15-of-26 field goal attempts, including 6-of-12 from 3-point distance. Besides a pair of 3-point attempts (one air ball, one make), that the Hawks were happy to allow him to shoot, Antetokounmpo continued to do most of his damage in the paint. He finished with 33 points and 11 rebounds while connecting on 13-of-21 field goals.