Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks learning to play with expectations after tough start to 2021-22

Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks needed a big win.

They got just that against the Milwaukee Bucks, blowing out the team that eliminated them last season to snap a six-game losing streak.

Young set the tone early before pouring in a season-high 42 points in what felt like a breakout performance for the Atlanta star.

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"He came out very aggressive. He felt the rhythm and stayed with it," head coach Nate McMillan said. "I thought he established a tempo on both ends of the floor. I loved the pace that we played with tonight."

The win over Milwaukee ends a stretch of games that has seen the Hawks face Brooklyn, Utah, Phoenix, Golden State, Utah again and then Denver in succession.

Forget the fact that those squads are all hoping to contend for a title, the Hawks are also battling their own expectations after a spectacular run to the Conference Finals.

"That's something that these guys are going through for the first time. Being a team that other opponents respect," McMillan said.

"We played some really good teams to start this season off. I thought last year we played good basketball and I don't think people were writing us off but this year they are coming in ready to play. This is something we are going through for the first time and guys are learning what it's like when expectations are higher."

"It's very similar to postseason play. You can tell them how physical it's going to be but until you go through it and experience it they really won't know."

The win improves Atlanta to 5-9 on the season, with the next four games all at home.

More than anything, Atlanta fans will be pleased to see the return of Young at his best, with the explosive scorer pouring in seven first-half triples on his way to 27 points through two quarters. He finished the night 8-for-13 from long range, the eight makes being his most in a game since January.

Prior to tonight, Young was just 34.4 percent from long range, with his 10 assists giving him his sixth double-double of the season.

The Hawks offence found its mojo against Milwaukee, with John Collins once again becoming an above-the-rim threat in pick-and-roll situations with Young.

Collins finished with 19 points and six rebounds, while also drawing two offensive fouls on Giannis Antetokounmpo.

It's only one win, and it came against an injury-hit Bucks team at the end of a five-game road trip, but for the first time in a while, the Hawks looked like last year's version.

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