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Reply To: NBA • Saturday Service Plays • 2/20/16

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Preview: Milwaukee At Atlanta

When: 7:30 PM ET, Saturday, February 20, 2016
Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

Now that the NBA trade deadline has passed and the Atlanta Hawks still have their core intact, the goal is to rediscover the brand of basketball that powered them to the Eastern Conference finals a season ago. Atlanta hosts the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday looking to bounce back after a disappointing opening to the second half Friday in a disjointed effort in that resulted in a 115-111 home loss to an undermanned Miami squad.

“I’m sure the whole NBA is glad that it’s over with,” Atlanta forward Paul Millsap told reporters in describing the speculation leading to Thursday’s trade deadline, but the Hawks lost for the sixth time in 10 games Friday. The Bucks opened the post All-Star schedule with a disappointing loss Friday, falling at home to Charlotte 98-95 after blowing an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter. Milwaukee is 6 ½ games out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, but guard Khris Middleton continues evolving into a critical element of the Bucks’ offense, and is averaging 17.9 points per game. “He opens up a lot of areas for us,” Milwaukee forward Jabari Parker told reporters during the All-Star break, “and we’re going to depend on him.”

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee), FSN Southeast (Atlanta)

ABOUT THE BUCKS (22-33): Middleton scored 20 points Friday – 10 coming in the fourth quarter – and is averaging 21.2 points in his past five games. Parker scored 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field and is averaging 16.7 points in his past three games, shooting 22-of-42 from the field. The Bucks have been awful on the road, losing 24-of-31 contests away from home.

ABOUT THE HAWKS (31-25): Atlanta looked sluggish throughout Friday’s contest, committing 21 turnovers (its season average coming in was 14.6). Guard Kyle Korver, who led the NBA in 3-point shooting each of the past two years but has been inconsistent this season, finished 4-of-7 from beyond the arc and is 12-of-21 from 3-point range in his past four games. Guard Jeff Teague scored 23 points with seven assists Friday, and is averaging 21.3 points and 6.3 assists in his past four games.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Milwaukee beat the Hawks 108-101 in overtime at home Jan. 15, getting 28 points and a career-high 16 rebounds from SF Giannis Antetokounmpo.

2. Atlanta expects G Kirk Hinrich, who the Hawks acquired in a trade deadline deal Thursday with Chicago, to be active Saturday.

3. The Bucks used just eight players Friday as G Jerryd Bayless (left knee) and F John Henson (back) did not play.

PREDICTION: Hawks 104, Bucks 95