On the bright side, the Hawks have been here before — facing elimination in the Eastern Conference playoffs and counted out.
But whether they will have star guard Trae Young (foot) to try to overcome a 3-2 deficit vs. the Bucks remains to be seen. Game 6 is Saturday in Atlanta, where the Hawks will aim to keep hope alive in an effort to make their first Finals appearance since 1961.
The Bucks are also missing their star, forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, out with a hyperextended knee. He seemingly is doubtful to return in this series. But the Hawks fell behind 30-10 and never lead in Game 5 anyway.
Interim coach Nate McMillan said it came down to the Bucks’ being more phsyical, and the Hawks know that has to change next time.
“Basically, it is a must-win game for us,” McMillan said. “That’s what it comes down to. That’s what this game means if you drop it, as we did (Thursday), and it’s a must win for us. It’s a one-game season for us. So we know what we have to do. We’ve got to get back home and get ourselves ready to take care of business at home.”
Atlanta struggled mightily in the paint, which is how Milwaukee was able to soar to its large early lead. As Graham Chapple of SB Nation noted, the Hawks allowed easy, high-percentage looks in the paint, where the Bucks scored a whopping 28 of their 36 first-quarter points.