(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Hawks can truly begin preparations for the playoffs with the No. 1 seed wrapped up, and that will take shape Monday night when they host the Milwaukee Bucks at Philips Arena.
The Hawks clinched homecourt advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs with a win on Friday night over the Miami Heat. Head coach Mike Budenholzer spoke about finding a good balance of resting his guys versus keeping them sharp, but their first time out since securing the top seed, Budenholzer opted for rest.
On Saturday, he sat DeMarre Carroll, Al Horford, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague, although he is dinged up with a sprained left ankle. The Hawks fell in Charlotte to the Hornets, 115-100.
Kent Bazemore led the way with 20 points, Dennis Schroder had 17 points and 11 assists, Mike Muscala scored 18 and John Jenkins had 16 points.
"I'm sure it builds their confidence," Budenholzer said of the extra time some players got. "Everyone knows we have guys who can come in and play. It was great to see them go out and execute."
It is unknown who will play for the Hawks on Monday, but rest is expected again for some since Atlanta plays in Detroit on Tuesday.
The Bucks have yet to sew up a postseason spot, although they reside in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. They are two games ahead of the Heat and 3 1/2 in front of the Brooklyn Nets, who are eighth.
Milwaukee has not played its best basketball in recent weeks. The Bucks have lost seven of their last nine and are just 5-14 since Feb. 22.
After a two-game winning streak, the Bucks fell to the Golden State Warriors, 108-95, on Saturday at the Bradley Center. That capped a four-game homestand which started with a loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers and featured wins over the Heat and Indiana Pacers.
Against the Warriors, Milwaukee had trouble with the vaunted backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Splash Brothers combined for 46 points as Golden State earned the top seed in the west.
"You always have to be concerned with those two on the floor," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said of Curry and Thompson.
Khris Middleton provided 14 points to lead Milwaukee, followed by 13 from Jared Dudley. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zaza Pachulia both finished with 12 points.
Milwaukee trimmed a 19-point deficit after three quarters to 11 after scoring the first eight points of the fourth. Dudley netted the final six points of the spurt to get the Bucks within 82-71.
Golden State, though, responded with a 10-4 run and was never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
The Hawks are 9-1 in their last 10 against the Bucks, but Milwaukee's only victory came on Dec. 26 in Atlanta.