|Moneyline||-265 / +215|
|Time||Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday and via DraftKings|
On Sunday evening, the Hawks started Game 3 strong and looked like they were going to pull another upset to take a 2-1 lead against the Milwaukee Bucks.
This was quite a back-and-forth game as the Hawks would build up a lead and the Bucks repeatedly battled back. Then, Trae Young suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter. He was able to come back in the fourth quarter, but did not look like his normal, explosive self. The Bucks outscored the Hawks 30-17 in the fourth quarter behind Khris Middleton’s amazing performance to get the win and take a 2-1 lead.
This game boils down to Young’s availability and health. Young received an MRI on Monday that revealed a bone bruise in his right foot. Per our Bet Labs Insider tool, he is officially listed as questionable in advance of Game 4 on Tuesday. I anticipate he will suit up, but how effective will he be?
The market has adjusted for Young’s injury accordingly, moving the line up from Bucks -5.5 at open to the -6.5 at the time of this publishing. Young is the heart and soul of this team, and without him, the Hawks are in big trouble. Will the Hawks’ role players be able to step up with a hobbled Young, or will the Bucks cruise to another victory?
Does Middleton Have Encore for Bucks?
The Bucks kept fighting in Game 3 and were finally able to break through late in the fourth quarter. They had an awesome opportunity with Young injuring his ankle, and they took advantage of it. The Bucks defense has stepped up as well. They adjusted their pick-and-roll coverage of Young after Game 1 and completely shut him down in Game 2.
Middleton was excellent for the first time in the this series scoring 38 points from 15-for-26 shooting from the field, including several clutch 3-pointers down the stretch. The Bucks will hope for him to stay hot if they want to finish off the Hawks.
After non-existent bench production in Game 1, Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton have really stepped up in the previous two games. Portis brought some much needed minutes and scoring with 15 points in Game 3, and Connaughton was a +25 in 32 minutes.
Gianni Antetokounmpo continues to be aggressive and attack the basket. He has been unstoppable this series, and most importantly, he’s been dialing down on the 3-point shooting. He has only attempted seven 3-pointers in the three games and focused on attacking the paint. His dominance inside led the Bucks to outscore the Hawks 56-34 in the paint.
He is currently listed on the injury report as probable with a calf injury. Our Bet Labs Insider tool currently has him projected as 95% to play. The Bucks’ three stars, Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Middleton still had to pump out 40+ minutes in Game 3 to fuel that comeback. It will be interesting to see how those heavy minutes impact their fatigue in Game 4.
Health of Hawks Stars is Paramount
Young has been one of the league’s breakout stars during this playoff run. Even though he finished with an efficient stat line in Game 3, he was visibly affected by the ankle injury in the fourth quarter. He went 1-for-4 from the field for three points and had a plus/minus of -15 in the fourth. The Hawks had a small lead after the third quarter but only put up a measly 17 points and blew the lead to the Bucks.
Home underdogs off a double-digit loss in a playoff series are 15-40 (27.3%) ATS since the 2016-2017 season, per the Sports Data Query Language database. This is active as a fade against the Hawks. Even though the game was a lot closer than the final score indicated, these teams that suffered big defeats tend to struggle the game after.
Teams off a playoff series loss as home underdogs when they had a lead after the third quarter are 5-17 (22.7%) ATS, per the SDQL database. This is active as a fade against the Hawks. Again, teams that are in this situation don’t tend to bounce back from a demoralizing loss.
One major story for the Hawks has been Bogdan Bogdanovic’s injury status and continuous struggles. The Serbian swingman has enjoyed a career season with the Hawks and has been one of their most consistent options on offense. However, he has been awful this series and has shot 7-for-28 (25%) from the field. His minutes (35) and shot attempts (16) increased in the previous game, so it is a good sign that he is feeling better. He looked more mobile and confident on the floor, but his shot wasn’t falling.
Kevin Huerter has continued his good play this series, and he was the primary ball handler at times in Game 3. If Young is not at full health, the Hawks will need for him to be in that role a lot more often. His play will be very integral to take defensive pressure off Young.
Even though the Hawks are a tremendous team at home, I do not think they can overcome the previous game’s demoralizing loss. Young and Bogdanovic are both not at full strength. Their role players and bench are not strong enough to match up with the Bucks.
The betting public will be pounding the Bucks. I agree with laying the points, and I recommend pouncing on this line at Bucks -6.5 before it creeps up past 7.
Seven is a considered a key number in the NBA. Since the 2016-2017 season, seven is the most common margin of NBA games. If the game is winding down and the margin is six or below, it is still within a two possession game. Therefore, teams will tend to continue and try to score. If it is seven points or greater, teams tend to waive the white flag and opt not to foul.
Pick: Bucks -6.5 (no greater than the key number of -7)