Lou Williams had himself a night in Atlanta’s 110-88 Game 4 win over the Bucks on Tuesday.
Williams, who usually comes off the bench for the Hawks, instead started in Trae Young’s place after Atlanta’s star guard suffered a bone bruise on his right foot in Game 3 — and Williams delivered in his first career playoff start
After being traded from the Clippers just a few months ago — when he considered retirement — Williams fit right in with the Hawks’ starting lineup and approach to Game 4 without Young.
Williams recorded 21 points on 7 of 9 shooting to go with eight assists — a career playoff high — five rebounds and only one turnover in 35 minutes.
The three-time Sixth Man of the Year impressed on both ends of the floor, and exploited Milwaukee’s drop coverage. Williams was a force off the pick-and-roll, knocking down a number of shots, as well as making plays and dishing the ball to the Atlanta bigs.
The Hawks were down by 10 when Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo went down after hyperextending his left knee late in the third quarter.
Atlanta, which commanded the pace for most of the game thanks to Williams, immediately set the tempo after Antetokounmpo’s injury, going on a 25-8 run to eventually even the series.
After Atlanta’s Game 4 win, Williams credited shifting his mindset to filling Young’s shoes.
“I just had to refocus my energy, put on a different hat, and get ready for the game,” he said.
Williams also spoke about his team’s confidence being two wins away from the NBA Finals.
“One thing that’s been steady with this team since I’ve been here, this team has always been confident in their abilities,” he told reporters after Game 4.
“We’ve earned the right to be here… Did I look ahead and say, ‘You know we an be championship contender day one.’ Probably not. But we’re two wins away like everybody else and we feel good about it.”
Williams also told reporters he learned he would start in Young’s absence while on the training table, moments before the game. Young was listed as questionable hours before Game 4.
Young’s status is up in the air for Game 5 on Thursday in Milwaukee. If he’s unable to go, the Hawks have a solid replacement in Williams.