There are many reasons the Milwaukee Bucks have taken a shocking 3-2 lead on the heavily-favored Atlanta Hawks, but there's one that stands out to me: aggression. Specifically, aggression as measured by the number of free throw attempts.
In the last two games, the Bucks have shot far more free throws than the Hawks, and that's keyed their success. In Game 4, the Bucks had 11 more free-throw attempts and 10 more makes than the Hawks, which was key in a seven-point game. Last night, the Bucks took 29 free throws to just 17 for the Hawks, again making 10 more. Better yet, in the fourth quarter, the Bucks made 15 more free-throw attempts than the Hawks.
As SB Nation's Bucks blog Brew Hoop writes:
The Bucks really should be a one-dimensional jump-shooting team without Andrew Bogut, and it'd be easy to get discouraged with Atlanta blocking their shots left and right. But the Bucks just kept attacking tonight and saw their stubbornness rewarded with a massive edge at the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
That's exactly what is so crazy about the Bucks in this series. Even with Bogut, this was a team that did a terrible job getting to the free-throw line in the regular season. They made only 18 free throws per 100 field goal attempts, which was the worst mark in the league by far. Besides John Salmons, who only played a third of a season with the Bucks, nobody on the team averaged more than four free throws per game in the regular season. And yet, they're winning this series at the free throw line.
I officially give up. Analysis is pointless.