NBA Playoffs 2021: Five big takeaways from Game 4 of Bucks-Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks won Game 4 despite Trae Young, their star guard, getting a bone bruise from stepping on an official's foot. Lou Williams was the leading scorer as Atlanta won 110-88 Tuesday night to even the series.After the game, Giannis Antetokounmpo's health is the immediate concern. He was injured in a nasty fall and left the second half with hyperextended knees. Milwaukee was unable to find any offense rhythm in his absence and scored just 36 points when he left. Atlanta may have two unreliable players in Game 5, as Clint Capela, the Hawks' center, departed late after suffering an elbow to the face during the fourth quarter.Are the Bucks still in a position to win the series with Giannis out? Can the Hawks keep relying on their key reserves for contributions? These are five things that our NBA experts learned from Game 4.Daily star injuries have been a major factor in the success of the postseasonCan the Bucks make it without Giannis?In 2021, it is not uncommon to see a NBA star on the hardwood in pain. On Tuesday night, another incident occurred. Five minutes into the third quarter, Bucks forward Giannis Antitokounmpo was challenging Hawks center Clint Capela's alley-oop lob. He landed awkwardly on the left leg of his opponent and fell to the ground beneath the basket.Antetokounmpo was already suffering from tightness in his left leg, which had him listed as probable in the injury report for Games 3 & 4.The uncertainty surrounding Antetokounmpo’s availability could present a challenge to a Bucks team already down Donte DiVincenzo as a starter and with limited depth. Bobby Portis, Milwaukee's only big man to have played meaningful minutes, is the only one who has. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday will be directing an offense that can stagnate when the Bucks are far away.Holiday is a great pick-and roll player (ranked 18th among 101 players with at most 500 pick-and–roll opportunities this season), but he gets fewer opportunities as point guard than he would in a more traditional offense. Holiday must be able to use his pick-and-roll skills, regardless of whether he is working with Brook Lopez or Middleton.Middleton will have to summon the spirit of Game 4 against Miami last year, when he led Milwaukee to their only win in the series with 36 points. Antetokounmpo left after only 11 minutes. As recently as Milwaukee's win in Game 3, when he scored 38, we have seen glimpses of Middleton's ability to create. Middleton is a high-degree-of difficulty shot-maker in the NBA. His ability to create from nothing will prove vital in a half court offense that presents creative challenges.The Bucks will need to create other streams of offense. This could be Lopez in the post or perimeter actions that allow Pat Connaughton or Bryn Forbes to hunt mismatches. Antetokounmpo's departure will limit the Bucks flexibility in any case. It's difficult to experiment with 5-man units with a reduced number of trusted players.Atlanta (minus Trae Young, DeAndre Hunter) and the LA Clippers (minus Kawhi Leno and their bigs), Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn and Denver, and the long list impact players who were sidelined this postseason, will not be consoling. In the 2021 playoffs, loss is the norm.-- Kevin ArnovitzLou Williams' utilityLou Williams scored 21 points against Milwaukee in Atlanta's Game 4 win. David Dow/NBAE via Getty ImagesThe Hawks were fortunate to have Lou Williams, who made his first playoff appearance in a career as a replacement for Trae Young after a season that was marred by injuries to star players. Atlanta was able to trade Rajon Rondo, an ineffective Hawks free agent, for Williams and two future second round picks.The Clippers gambled that "Playoff Roondo" would return to L.A. with this trade. Rondo was pushed out of the rotation in each of the two previous rounds. Williams, who played 35 minutes Tuesday night, has seen more playoff action than Rondo.Atlanta is delighted Williams reconsidered his decision after contemplating retiring following the trade. Williams' ability and creativity to create his own shot was crucial for the Hawks without Young. He was the one who set the tone, scoring seven points within the first five minutes. Atlanta then took a 15-5 lead. Williams finished the game with 21 points on 7 of 9 shooting. In addition, he gave eight assists, three on Young-esque lobs for Clint Capela, with only one turnover.Williams, at this stage in his career as a distributor and shooter, is no match to Young. He was Atlanta's understudy for one night.-- Kevin PeltonMiddleton? Paging Khris MiddletonIs Khris Middleton still able to pull off the magic of Game 3? Milwaukee will need some more of the magic from Game 3!He scored 20 of his 38 points during the fourth quarter in the win over the Bucks in Atlanta. Middleton, who averaged 15.3 points and 34% shooting in the three remaining East finals games, has not made an impact.If this doesn't change it's difficult to imagine the Bucks beating Hawks -- assuming Antetokounmpo is either sidelined or substantially less than 100% for the remainder of the series.Middleton has been a star player in the postseason. He scored at least 35 points in three games and recorded double-doubles each time. Antetokounmpo was the MVP-caliber running mate for Middleton, who was a two-time All-Star.Middleton was never the Bucks' No. 1 offensive option. Middleton was never their No. 1 offensive option even after he signed his $177.5million deal. They need him to be that way now.Tim MacMahonBogi is moving up13 days ago, Hawks forward Bogdan Bogdanovic felt pain in his right leg. Before the injury, the fourth-year sharpshooter had been a vital cog in Hawks' explosive offense. He averaged 16.4 points, 5.9 rebound and 3 assists per game.Pablo Torre, ESPN Daily's host, gives you an insider's view of the most important stories at ESPN. This podcast is available Monday through Friday. ListenThe next five games were: Only 6.2 points, shooting 25.5% from floor, and a pitiful 5-of-26 deep.It was the Bogdanovic from old on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-6 guard scored 20 points in the three first games against the Bucks. Tuesday night he matched his total with five assists, four steals and six 3-pointers.Atlanta improves to 3-0 when Bogdanovic scores at minimum 20 points. They were also 13-7 during the regular season.Atlanta's postseason hopes look brighter if Young can be back in the lineup in Game 5, and Bogdanovic can play at the same level as before he injured his knee.Andrew LopezAtlanta might be home to more X-factorsThese attrition-driven playoffs have taught us one thing: a deep roster could be the ultimate X factor. As stars go down, the games are being handed over to role players and complementing pieces.The Hawks got a boost with the return of Cam Reddish, a second-year wing. He played a stoic defense against Khris Middleton in his second game since February 21. Reddish added 12 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 23 minutes.Bogdan Bogdan Bogdanovic is back to good health and has a significant offensive boost in his shooting. Kris Dunn played spot-minutes behind Lou Williams as a backup point guard during the series' DNPs.Teams are looking for alternatives due to the grind of the season and the strangeities of the season. With Giannis' injury, the Bucks are now looking for a big one. The offense will be more oriented toward Middleton but will also require help from other sources.Each playoff series has players who step up and get hot. It is usually for one or two games. With injuries increasing, the X-factors may be the primary option for the remainder of the season. Atlanta might have more than Milwaukee.-- Royce Young