The Bucks played without Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe Friday night in Atlanta, but that didn't stop them from rolling to a 112-86 victory over the Hawks, who have now lost nine consecutive games.
Atlanta came out with very little punch or spirit, even before Trae Young exited the game with a right ankle injury late in the second quarter. Absent their best shooter and creator, the Hawks stumbled to just 0.8 points per possession and 29 percent shooting from 3. All the while, Milwaukee filleted Atlanta's defense with an onslaught of backdoor cuts, screens, and drives.
"They run a lot of action and they space you out, and I thought a couple times we got beat on some backdoors that we're inviting," Pierce said. "We want to take away the 3s, we want to try and deny some of the catches, and we got beat on a couple backdoors."
Khris Middleton led the way for Milwaukee with 23 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists on 10-of-19 shooting. Former Hawk Ersan Ilyasova finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds while Brook Lopez had 19 points and three blocks.
The Hawks, having lost nine games in a row and 21 of their last 23, are now 6-25 on the season. They'll face the Bulls on the second game of a back-to-back Saturday night in Chicago.
"We've played Chicago on back-to-backs all three times this year," Pierce said. "We've played them shorthanded, as we will tomorrow. And no one cares about that. It's Atlanta vs. Chicago. ... That's the only spirit we have. This is pro sports. You just adjust and you deal with it."