Bucks vs. Hawks: Game 5 NBA Betting Picks for Thursday, July 1st (2021)

Chris Paul is finally going to the NBA Finals! One of the most fulfilling moments in sports is witnessing one of the great players of their generation finally make it to the promised land. He is still four wins away from an NBA Championship, something that would help cement his legacy, but just making it to the Finals, especially out of the West, is a monumental accomplishment in itself. With the Western Conference Finals wrapped up, all eyes now turn to the Eastern Conference and the 2-2 series between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks. Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a scary knee hyperextension in Game 4 and is expected to miss tonight’s game and quite possibly Game 6 as well. Trae Young remains banged up and is questionable for Game 5.

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1. Hawks +2 | -107 at DraftKings Sportsbook

Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday or Clint Capela, John Collins, and, well, that’s the question. The Bucks know who they will need to lean on tonight, but if Ice Trae is unable to suit up, which Hawks players will be able to step up is a legitimate question. While this is not due to a lack of options, the absence of a clear-cut number two star may cause some issues in the half-court. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, and Kevin Huerter are all capable of stepping up, but if Trae is sidelined again, two or more of these players will need to do so. 

The Bucks are the better value at first glance, but as we saw in Game 4, a poor shooting night from Middleton or Holiday could spell a loss for the Bucks. A poor shooting night from both? The Hawks could cruise to another double-digit win. The Hawks have more players comfortable with, and proven, with more volume, and appear to be the value. The Bucks have the higher win probability in our model and will likely cover if they do win, but Game 5 seems to be Atlanta’s to lose.

2. John Collins Over 15.5 Points | -108 at DraftKings Sportsbook

John Collins will need to step up tonight regardless of Trae Young’s availability. Giannis will be sidelined, and with Trae likely to be hobbled even if he does play, the Hawks would do well to pound the rock in the paint as often as possible. They now have a distinct advantage in the paint and should look to exploit that fact early and often. Collins will be one of the main beneficiaries of the enhanced focus on bringing it inside, and without Giannis to guard him, could have a ‘throwback’ performance in Game 5. 

Collins averaged 17.6 points per game during the regular season but dropped to 13.6 in the playoffs. The main reason for this is that Trae was hoisting an extra five shots per game in playoff mode. With a limited or absent Trae, Collins should look to get back to the type of aggressiveness that made him a 21.6 points per game player just last season. While that did not happen in Game 4, Giannis did not get hurt until midway through the second half. Staying out of foul trouble will, of course, be key, but the value here lies squarely with the over—Tap Collins for one unit for tonight’s contest.

 3. Jrue Holiday Under 10.5 Assists | -167 at DraftKings Sportsbook

I am not sure why Vegas set this number so high when the absence of Giannis guarantees the evaporation of at least 2-3 easy assists. Perhaps it is due to an increase in usage rate and a lower chance at a hockey assist with the ball expected to be in Jrue or Middleton’s hands until later in the shot clock. Holiday is averaging 8.1 assists per game this postseason and has hit 11 assists just once in his last 10 contests. This is a line to slap two units on for the partial return. The juice is too high to chase two units unless you are already comfortable with baseball-level moneyline juices. 

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