May 2, 2010, 11:10 AM EDT
Drama. This series has had plenty of it. More than it has had beautiful basketball, it has had drama. Games seven are by their very nature, dramatic.
This is going to be fun to watch. Pretty? Probably not. But entertaining.
The strategy here is pretty simple, it’s played out over the series. In their three wins, the Bucks took advantage of the Hawks switching every pick-and-roll to get a Hawk big — Josh Smith or Al Horford — isolated on quick guards Brandon Jennings and Al Horford. Then they attack. Smith and Horford are two very athletic guys who give a lot a people trouble, but they can’t do too much in isolation that far from the basket, without some help.
In the Bucks wins Jennings and Salmons got into the lane in these situations and hit layups. Then they hit their jump shots that came when Horford and Smith took a step back to stop the penetration.
In game six the Hawks did better at being aggressive on defense, of pushing Salmons and Jennings to help, and stopping the parade of layups. Then Jennings and Salmons missed their jumpers.
That’s what to look for early — what shots are Jennings and Salmons getting, and are they hitting them?
The other thing to see is how fast Atlanta is scoring. The Bucks are not going to win if the score gets up too high, they want to grind it out. If the Hawks can get some easy buckets in transition, if Horford and Smith and Jamal Crawford can get hot, they can run away with this.
The Hawks are the better team with much better athletes, but playoff basketball is about is matchups. For three games the Bucks got the ones they wanted and exploited them. In game six, the Hawks were more aggressive and shut those down. The Hawks should win this game and this series. Should. They are the better team. But I wouldn’t bet on it, because the Bucks will fight hard, they are scrappers.
Whatever it is, it will be dramatic.