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Las Vegas Raiders trade WR Bryan Edwards, 7th-rounder to Atlanta Falcons for fifth-round pick in 2023 NFL draft

The Las Vegas Raiders have traded wide receiver Bryan Edwards and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft to the Atlanta Falcons for their fifth-round selection next year, the teams revealed Friday.

Edwards, 23, has 45 catches for 764 yards and four touchdowns in 28 career games (15 starts) since being selected by the Raiders in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Las Vegas, under the direction of new general manager Dave Ziegler and new coach Josh McDaniels, saw Edwards as expendable after getting two-time All-Pro wideout Davante Adams in March to join Pro Bowler Hunter Renfrow.

The team also signed Mack Hollins, Demarcus Robinson and Keelan Cole in free agency as part of the overhaul of the wide receiver room.

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Cole on Thursday signed a one-year, $1.2675 million deal with Las Vegas that included a $150,000 signing bonus, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

With the departure of Edwards, the Raiders now have just two of their seven picks from the 2020 draft still on the roster:

Offensive lineman John Simpson, a fourth-round pick who started all 17 games at left guard last season, and cornerback Amik Robertson, who was taken 30 picks after Simpson and has started two of 18 career games.

First-rounders Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette were both cut. Lynn Bowden, who was taken one spot after Edwards, was traded before playing in a regular-season game, and Tanner Muse, drafted 19 picks after Bowden, spent his rookie campaign on injured reserve and was released before playing a match.

The Falcons, meanwhile, needed to add to their receiving depth after drafting Drake London with the No. 8 pick last month. Edwards could end up being No. 2 on the depth chart, as Auden Tate and Olamide Zaccheaus are their most experienced receivers.

Atlanta, in the past two years, traded Julio Jones to Tennessee, had Calvin Ridley suspended indefinitely for gambling and lost Russell Gage in free agency to Tampa Bay.

The Falcons also have one of the tallest group of pass-catchers in the NFL. Tight end Kyle Pitts is 6-foot-6, London is 6-5, running back Cordarrelle Patterson is 6-2, Tate is 6-5, and Edwards is 6-3.

In corresponding roster moves, the Falcons released cornerback Kendall Sheffield and tight end Ryan Becker

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Atlanta Falcons, star DT Grady Jarrett reach three-year extension worth up to $51 million

The Atlanta Falcons are keeping one of their cornerstone defensive players around for the foreseeable future.

The club agreed to a three-year extension with defensive tackle Grady Jarrett on Tuesday that is worth up to $17 million per year in new money and $51 million in totality for the extension if he reaches certain incentives, a source confirmed to ESPN. The extension contains $34.5 million guaranteed.

Jarrett is now signed through the 2025 season at a total value of $67 million, including the money he was slated to earn in 2022.

The news of the terms of the deal was first reported by WSB-TV in Atlanta. The Falcons confirmed that Jarrett agreed to a three-year extension but did not disclose financial terms. Jarrett — who celebrated his 29th birthday Thursday, the first day of the NFL draft — was a fifth-round pick by the Falcons in 2015 out of Clemson.

The player from Conyers, Georgia, became a starter for Atlanta in his second season, in 2016. He made back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2019 and 2020 and has started every game he has played in for Atlanta since the start of that 2016 season.

In all, he has played in 110 games — starting 95 of them — with 359 tackles, 26.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries.

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Jarrett, the son of former Falcons linebacker Jessie Tuggle, moved around a bit from defensive tackle to defensive end in defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ 3-4 scheme last season in an attempt to create even better matchups.

Jarrett (6 feet, 305 pounds) became the focal point of opposing offensive lines, sometimes facing triple-teams as he tried to work off of blocks.

“Based on the way Grady plays and his reputation, I think people will account for him in protection,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “We also move him around a little bit too, but yeah, I mean, if you’re playing us, you’re certainly going to account for him in your protection schemes.”

With Jarrett staying, he will become one of the key leaders for the Falcons as they transition most of their roster.

He’s the second Falcons player to receive a long-term extension this offseason, joining left tackle Jake Matthews. The team also traded quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts and in the past 12 months traded wide receiver Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans and had receiver Calvin Ridley suspended for at least one year for gambling.

Atlanta is in the middle of restructuring its front seven as well, with Jarrett as the centerpiece. Linebacker Foye Oluokun signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency, and the Falcons signed Rashaan Evans to potentially replace him.

The team has brought in three new edge rushers — signing Lorenzo Carter and drafting Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone — to try to lighten some of the attention opposing teams give to Jarrett every down. Atlanta also signed defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, potentially to offer Jarrett more help on the interior.

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Heat hold off Hawks 97-94, reach Eastern semifinals

If one play could tell the story of a five-game series, consider this one: Trae Young’s final shot from the field was a corner 3-point try that he rushed because he knew a defender was coming his way.

The shot bounced off the side of the backboard.

Take a bow, Miami. Even without Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler, defense carried the day — and carried the Heat into the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Victor Oladipo scored 23 points, Bam Adebayo added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the Heat moved into Round 2 of the playoffs by eliminating Young and the Atlanta Hawks 97-94 on Tuesday night.

“The biggest thing about this game was our defense,” Adebayo said. That was, and is, Miami’s plan. The Heat swarmed Young from the start of Game 1 to the end of Game 5, holding Atlanta’s high-octane scorer to a 15.4-point average in the series on 32% shooting. Young had as many assists as he had turnovers — 30 of each.

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“They’re a good defensive team,” Young said. “Their team is more of a system than who they have on their team. No matter who they have out there, they can play. … And when they’ve got a guy that they’re targeting and trying to take away, they do a really good job of doing that.”

Tyler Herro scored 16, Max Strus scored 15 and Caleb Martin added 10 for the top-seeded Heat, who got the clincher with Butler and Lowry sitting out with injuries.

Young went 2 for 12 from the floor, scoring just 11 points. De’Andre Hunter scored 35 for Atlanta, which got 12 apiece from Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari.

“Obviously, I didn’t shoot the ball well,” Young stated.

Hunter fouled out with 41.6 seconds left, Miami clinging to a three-point lead at the time. The Hawks got a stop, taking over with 29.2 seconds remaining, and retained possession after a missed shot from Gallinari went out of bounds off Miami.

The Hawks never got another shot off, time expired and Miami moved on.

“They are a hell of a team,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “Those guys compete every second that they’re out on the floor and I have a great deal of respect for how they play.”

Onyeka Okongwu’s three-point play got Atlanta within 79-76 early in the fourth, the Hawks clawing back after being down by as many as 15.

But Herro hit a high-arcing jumper from the lane, Miami got a stop, and Oladipo hit a left-wing 3 on the next Heat possession to push the lead back to eight with 7:29 left. That’s how the final minutes went: Atlanta made a charge, Miami would hold it off, all the way to the end.

And now, the Heat get nearly a week off before facing either Philadelphia or Toronto in the East semis. Game 1 will be Monday in Miami.

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Young, Hunter lead Hawks to 132-103 play-in rout of Hornets

For one night, at least, the Atlanta Hawks looked like the team that made a stunning run to the Eastern Conference final last summer.

Trae Young bounced back from a sluggish start to score 24 points and De’Andre Hunter led a third-quarter surge Wednesday that carried the Hawks to a 132-103 rout of the Charlotte Hornets in a play-in game.

“We’re definitely confident right now,” Hunter said. “But we’ve got a lot more work to do. We’re not satisfied yet.”

The Hawks were a bit of a disappointment during the regular season, concluding ninth in the East after their surprising playoff success in 2021.

They’ve still got to win one more play-in game just to make the playoffs, heading to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Friday night. The winner claims the No. 8 seed in the East and will face the top-seeded Miami Heat in the opening round of the playoffs.

The season is over for the Hornets, who were overwhelmed in the 9-10 play-in game for the second year in a row and haven’t made the playoffs since 2016.

Still, coach James Borrego called it another step forward for a rebuilding team. “A lot of good things have happened for this franchise based on where we’re at today compared to where we were two or three years ago,” he stated.

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Miles Bridges was ejected in the fourth quarter and could be facing additional punishment from the league office after he appeared to strike a young fan with his mouthpiece.

All five Atlanta starters scored in double figures, as did Bogdan Bogdanovic off the bench. 

It was Hunter who came up big in the decisive third period, bursting out with 16 points after being held to 3 in the first half.

“I think I’m a big part of this team,” Hunter said. ”Me being aggressive, scoring and defending, helps this team a lot.”

Hunter ended with 22 points, while Danilo Gallinari added 18 and Clint Capela 15. Kevin Huerter and Bogdanovic chipped in with 13 apiece.

The Hornets closed the regular season strong and felt like they had a good opportunity to win a couple of play-in games on the road. But those hopes came crashing down versus their I-85 rival.

LaMelo Ball led Charlotte with 26 points on 7-of-25 shooting.

The Hawks led by 13 in the first half before settling for a 60-52 advantage at the break. Charlotte had a bit of momentum in the closing minutes of the half, but it sure didn’t carry over to the third.

The Hawks outscored the Hornets 42-24 during that 12-minute barrage, hitting 16 of 24 shots, and led 102-76 heading to the final period.

With the Hornets doubling at every opportunity, Young made only 1 of 9 shots in the opening quarter and 3 of 13 in the first half.

But his teammates found plenty of open looks and made the Hornets pay dearly.

“It’s great for my team,'” said Young, who had 11 assists. “If you can make two guys guard you, it only opens up the floor for everybody else. I have to embrace it.”

Charlotte should’ve known what kind of night it would be on their way to State Farm Arena.

The Hornets’ chartered bus was blocked by a freight train that stopped on a crossing near the downtown sports complex. The bus had to turn around and take a different route to the arena, delaying Charlotte’s arrival for pregame warmups. It didn’t get much better once the game tipped off.

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Tatum scores 33 to help Celtics push past Hawks 107-98

Jayson Tatum had 33 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to help the Boston Celtics rally in the second half and beat the Atlanta Hawks 107-98 on Tuesday night.

Derrick White and Grant Williams each added 18 points off the bench. Marcus Smart concluded with 16 points and four assists.

Boston has won 10 of its last 12 and three of four since the All-Star break.

The Celtics played the final three quarters without starter Jaylen Brown, who left the game in the first quarter with a right ankle injury. Being able to recover from Brown’s injury taught the team a lot, Smart stated.

“It just shows, that if we continue to come out like this, this is the team that we are. This is the identity that we have. It’s going to be hard for teams,” he said.

Trae Young had 31 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 25 for the Hawks, who have lost two of three.

“They came out aggressive, ready to attack and I thought we got back on our heels,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “We just settled for the long ball. We didn’t attack.”

Atlanta led by as many as 17 points in the first half before that cushion evaporated in a 14-0 run by Boston to open the third quarter.

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The Hawks shot selection didn’t help, going 7 of 31 from 3-point range in the game.

“I think we kind of bailed them out and let them off the hook taking some shots and obviously not attacking like we did in the first half,” Young said.

The Celtics seized on it and kept their momentum going, outscoring the Hawks 31-13 in the period to take a 82-78 edge in the fourth.

The surge was keyed by Boston’s defense, which held Young to just nine points after halftime. The increased intensity was a response to a plea by coach Ime Udoka at halftime for his team to be more physical.

“It’s part of us. It’s part of me. It’s something that when we’re being physical, it helps us on the defensive end. But also on the offensive end,” Smart said.

Boston’s lead grew to 102-88 with 3:11 left in the game following back-to-back 3-pointers by Williams. Both baskets were set up by defensive plays by Smart. First, he chased down De’Andre Hunter on a fast break and came up with a block from behind. Then, he stepped in front of an errant pass by Bogdanovic to start another Celtics’ sprint out.

The plays were examples of how they want to play, Smart said.

The Celtics entered the game at full strength for the first time in weeks, but that changed in the first quarter when Brown left with a right ankle sprain after taking an awkward fall during a drive into the lane.

He grabbed at his right leg as he toppled to the ground, but was able to walk to the locker room on his own power. Udoka stated he was able to move around on the ankle in the locker room, but he is day to day.

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Down 2-0, Dodgers have Braves where they want them at home

Trailing 2-0 in the NL Championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers have the Atlanta Braves right where they want them. At their house.

The Braves’ last victory at Dodger Stadium was June 9, 2018. They’ve lost nine consecutive in Los Angeles, getting swept in a three-game series in late August and were shut out twice in the 2018 NL Division Series.

Going back to the 2013 NLDS, the Braves have dropped 19 of their last 22 in LA.

The Dodgers were an MLB-best 58-23 at home, ending the regular season on franchise-record 15-game winning streak at Chavez Ravine. But as a wild-card team, they don’t have home-field advantage in the NL playoffs despite 106 victories.

“We’re back home,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Monday. “We expect to win Game 3.”

The series resumes Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles is a 3-2 favorite,

“They’re just really good here, really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s fun to come out here. Dodger Stadium is an electric place and the weather’s nice.”

Charlie Morton (0-1, 3.86 ERA in the postseason) starts for the Braves. Walker Buehler (0-1, 3.38), a 16-game winner in the regular season, takes the mound for the Dodgers.

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“If the baseball sayings are right, you’re only as good as your next day’s starting pitcher,” All-Star pitcher Max Scherzer said, “and so we got Walk going on the mound and we definitely believe we can win with him. Our mindset is just win the next game.”

Buehler will start on two extra days’ rest after opening Game 4 of the NLDS on short rest a week ago.

“I got a little sick in San Francisco, but I’m feeling all right, so no worse for the wear,” he said Monday, declining to specify what or how he felt ill.

The Cy Young Award contender has proven to be reliable in big matches, with a 2.50 ERA in 13 postseason starts.

“With Walker being on extra rest, I think to have him, to push him, go deeper is certainly a very good option,” Roberts stated.

The Dodgers expect to have Justin Turner back at third base. He was reduced to pinch-hitting in Game 2 due to a neck injury, ending his streak of 77 consecutive postseason starts. He’s struggled at the plate in the postseason, hitting .050 versus San Francisco in the NLDS.

The Dodgers have been down before against Atlanta. Playing last postseason at a neutral site in Texas, they overcame a 1/3 deficit to defeat the Braves in the NLCS. LA went on to win its first World Series championship since 1988.

After last year, the 88-win Braves aren’t taking anything for granted.

“It’s like one of those things where you can’t stop now, you got to continue to apply the pressure,” said third baseman Austin Riley, whose RBI single won Game 1.

Snitker added, “With a year’s experience and in the same position these guys are better versed for it right now.”

Game 4 is Wednesday and a possible Game 5 the following day, cutting out any rest for the bullpen and seemingly making it harder for the Dodgers to use their starters in relief, as they did in the first two matches.

The Braves made history as just the second team ever to win the first two games of a League Championship Series on walk-offs, joining the 1969 Baltimore Orioles. Historically, teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven postseason major league series go on to win the series 84% of the time.

Along with his teammates, Atlanta slugger Freddie Freeman will be looking to reset in LA. He’s 0 for 8 in the series, striking out seven times. “He can get hot at any moment,” Roberts said.

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Clint Capela signs contract extension with Hawks reportedly worth $46 million over two years

Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela has agreed to a two-year, $46 million contract extension, tying him to the franchise through the 2024-25 season, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

Capela had two years left on his existing contract, and he now is set to make $82 million over the next four seasons with the Hawks.

His representatives at Wasserman completed the new deal with Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk ahead of an Oct. 18 deadline for the extension.

Capela, 27, played an immense role in the Hawks’ run to the Eastern Conference finals last season. He averaged 15.2 points and a league-leading 14.3 rebounds in the regular season and played well in postseason series triumphs over New York and Philadelphia.

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He played an immense role in improving the Hawks’ defense, finishing with a 4.98 defensive real plus-minus, according to ESPN’s Stats & Info. He trailed only Utah’s Rudy Gobert, the league’s defensive player of the year, in that category.

The Hawks signed Capela in a 2020 trade with Houston, where he had played his first six NBA seasons.

Capela is the third Atlanta starter to sign a contract extension this summer, joining All-Star guard Trae Young and forward John Collins. With Capela, Young and Collins all signed to new deals this summer, Atlanta has now locked in its core group of players until at least 2025, when Bogdan Bogdanovic is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

The next deals that will have to be worked out are Kevin Huerter, who will be a restricted free agent next summer, and De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, who still have two more years of team control before they hit restricted free agency in 2024.

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Stanton, Yankees win 10th straight, cool off Braves 5-1

Giancarlo Stanton homered and drove in three runs to carry the New York Yankees to their 10th consecutive victory, cooling off the streaking Atlanta Braves 5-1 on Monday night.

The Yankees snapped first-place Atlanta’s own nine-game winning streak in the first regular-season matchup in almost 120 years between teams that had won at least nine in a row.

Stanton homered in the second inning off Huascar Ynoa (4-3) and snapped a 1-all tie in the sixth with a two-out, two-run double.

Gary Sánchez gave New York some insurance with another two-out hit in the eighth, singling through the shift to bring home two more runs.

Jordan Montgomery (5-5) worked around four walks in his five-inning stint, limiting the Braves to two hits — including a homer by Dansby Swanson.

The Yankees’ bullpen took it from there. Jonathan Loaisiga pitched two scoreless innings, striking out four. Wandy Peralta worked around a couple of hits in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman finished off Atlanta with a 1-2-3 ninth.

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In the second, Stanton put the Yankees ahead with his 21st homer — going the opposite way with a 387-foot shot into the Chop House restaurant in right.

The Braves tied it in the bottom half with a long ball of their own.

Swanson launched a 408-foot drive into the Atlanta bullpen for his 25th homer of the campaign.

New York went ahead for good in the sixth, taking advantage of Ynoa’s only spurt of wildness.

After plunking DJ LeMahieu with a pitch, Ynoa retired the next two hitters before issuing his only walk of the night to Joey Gallo.

Stanton made the Atlanta pitcher pay, lining a one-hop double off the wall in left to bring home both runners.

Ynoa turned in another strong start in his second appearance since an extended stint on the injured list after hurting his right hand punching a wall in frustration. He permitted four hits, three runs and struck out nine over six innings.

Montgomery was backed up by a couple of stellar defensive plays, including a diving catch by Gallo down the left-field line to rob Guillermo Heredia of a hit in the second.

The game was played in a playoff-like atmosphere, with a near-sellout crowd of 39,176 in Atlanta and plenty of Yankees fans to spice things up.

It marked the first matchup between two teams this hot since Sept. 7, 1901, when the Pittsburgh Pirates took a 10-game winning streak into their contest against the Philadelphia Phillies, who had won nine in a row.

The Phillies won 4-1 for their 10th straight victory, but Pittsburgh went on to capture the NL pennant. The first World Series would not be held for two more years.

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Atlanta Falcons quarterback AJ McCarron ‘heartbroken’ after right knee injury in preseason defeat

Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback AJ McCarron left the game in the second quarter of Saturday night’s 37-17 defeat to the Dolphins with a right knee injury at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.

While Falcons coach Arthur Smith didn’t want to speculate on the exact nature of McCarron’s injury until after the veteran has an MRI, he did not sound encouraged by the possible prognosis.

“I really feel for AJ McCarron,” Smith said. “Any time something like that happens and it’s non-contact, it’s tough when you know what these guys put into it. I feel for AJ. We’ll obviously get the MRI to confirm but he’s heartbroken.

“He had bounced back and he was out there fighting, fighting for his team and trying to get the extra yards.”

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The injury came with 10 minutes left in the first half.

McCarron handed the ball off to running back Qadree Ollison and as he came out of his typical movement following the handoff he grabbed his right knee.

McCarron tried to walk toward the sideline but couldn’t initially get there. Falcons medical staff came to examine him and he walked off to the sideline. Minutes later, McCarron walked slowly to the Atlanta locker room. He completed 3-of-6 passes for 43 yards and had one run for seven yards versus the Dolphins. The run came a play before he hurt his knee.

Smith stated he wasn’t sure whether that play had anything to do with McCarron’s injury. McCarron was replaced by undrafted rookie Feleipe Franks, who he had been battling with for the No. 2 position throughout training camp. Franks, who was initially projected to play the second half, entered the game with 10 minutes left in the first half instead.

Franks completed 4-of-9 passes for 46 yards, no touchdowns and one interception while also rushing three times for 32 yards. He was sacked four times.

“The one thing that Feleipe has shown is that he can extend plays,” Smith said. “I thought he threw the ball a little bit better tonight at times. Still got to push him where he’s had a lot of growth and will continue to grow.”

Smith said in order to develop quarterbacks, you have to play them and that was the philosophy with Franks over the first two preseason matches. Smith said unfortunately the situation Franks faced Saturday — being forced to play earlier than expected due to injury — is what his role would be as a backup quarterback sometimes.

The Falcons signed McCarron to a one-year deal for more than $1.21 million on April 30 — hours prior to the second day of the NFL draft — to be No. 2 on the depth chart. A fifth-round pick out of Alabama in 2014 by Cincinnati, McCarron has played in 17 games, starting four and completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 1,173 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.

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Without Giannis, Bucks beat Hawks 123-112 for 3-2 lead

Brook Lopez scored a playoff career-high 33 points and the Milwaukee Bucks withstood Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence to defeat the Atlanta Hawks 123-112 on Thursday night for a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Bucks are one victory away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974. They won their lone NBA title in 1971.

Four of their starters had at least 22 points: Lopez, Khris Middleton (26), Jrue Holiday (25) and Bobby Portis (22). Middleton also had 13 rebounds and eight assists. Holiday had 13 assists and six rebounds.

Game 6 is Saturday in Atlanta, with the winner of the series facing the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals. Each team was missing its biggest star as Antetokounmpo dealt with a hyperextended left knee and Atlanta’s Trae Young sat out a second consecutive game due to a bone bruise in his right foot.

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Young got hurt when he accidentally stepped on an official’s foot along the sideline in Milwaukee’s 113-102 Game 3 victory. 

Antetokounmpo landed awkwardly after trying to block Clint Capela’s dunk attempt in Atlanta’s 110-88 Game 4 triumph.

Just as the Hawks’ role players stepped up with Young sidelined in Game 4, Antetokounmpo’s teammates came through Thursday to help the Bucks overcome the loss of their two-time MVP.

Bogdan Bogdanovic led the Hawks with 28 points. Atlanta also got 19 points each from John Collins and Danilo Gallinari, and 17 from Lou Williams.

Portis took Antetokounmpo’s spot in the starting lineup and had the Fiserv Forum fans chanting “Bobby! Bobby!” on multiple occasions, continuing something that started during Milwaukee’s Game 2 blowout victory. Portis’ 22 points were a playoff career high.

The Bucks never trailed and led by as many as 20 in the first quarter, making most of their shots and getting second-chance opportunities on their rare misses. The game was nearly eight minutes old by the time Cam Reddish got Atlanta’s first defensive rebound.

Milwaukee led 36-22 after a first quarter in which the Bucks outscored the Hawks 28-8 in the paint. Bogdanovic’s 13 first-half points helped the Hawks close the gap to 65-56 at the break.

The Bucks needed that edge in the paint because they again couldn’t connect from range, continuing a problem that has hounded them the entire postseason. After making their first two 3-point shots, they missed their next 12 attempts from beyond the arc.

Atlanta cut the lead to 65-59 when Bogdanovic hit a 3-pointer to open the third-quarter scoring, but that’s as close as the Hawks would get in the second half. This marked the second consecutive game in this series without any lead changes. The Hawks never trailed in Game 4.

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