Bucks vs. Hawks Game 6 Betting Preview: Back Atlanta to Force Deciding Showdown

Action Network NBA analyst Roberto Arguello gives his detailed thoughts, plus his top pick, for Saturday's Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Hawks and Bucks.

Bucks vs. Hawks Game 6 Odds

Bucks Odds +2.5
Hawks Odds -2.5
Moneyline +115 / -140
Over/Under 216.5
Time 8:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Friday evening via BetMGM.

The Atlanta Hawks host the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Both teams are coming off of consecutive wins where they never trailed at home. Despite playing without Trae Young in Game 4, the Hawks dominated the Bucks from start to finish and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s knee injury in the third quarter was the final blow.

With both Young and Antetokounmpo out for Game 5 in Milwaukee, the Bucks took a commanding 20-point lead in the first quarter as they scored on 13 consecutive possessions to start the game. A total of 28 of their 36 first-quarter points came in the paint, with Brook Lopez leading all scorers. Lopez finished with 33 points, hitting 14 of 18 shots.

Young is questionable to play in Game 6 with a foot injury, while Antetokounmpo remains doubtful to play. However, there are some rumors that Antetokounmpo would be ready to play in a potential Game 7 if the Hawks can stave off elimination.

This game opened as a toss-up, but the Hawks have moved to 2.5-point favorites at the time of story publication. Can Atlanta protect its home court for the second consecutive game even if Young remains sidelined?

Middleton, Holiday Must Carry Milwaukee’s Offense

If the Bucks win or cover as short road underdogs, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday must have huge nights, while their defense steps up to limit the Hawks’ perimeter shooting. Donte DiVincenzo (foot) remains out for the postseason.

Whether Antetokounmpo plays or not, Middleton needs to compete at a high level for the Bucks to win. In Milwaukee’s three wins this series, Middleton has averaged 26.3 points per game, while shooting a combined 31 of 59 from the field.

In the two Bucks’ losses, he has scored 15.5 points per game and shot a combined 12 of 40 from the field. His 3-point shooting will also be important — he made 10 of 25 3-pointers in their three wins compared to going 0 for 16 from beyond the arc in their two losses.

If Game 6 is competitive down the stretch, Milwaukee will rely on his tough shotmaking to win in crunch time, as it did in Game 3, where he singlehandedly outscored the Hawks in the fourth quarter.

Holiday’s driving was vital for the Bucks in Game 5. His ability to put pressure on the rim opened up the rest of the offense, and it will be imperative that he continues to leverage his size and strength advantage against the smaller Hawks guards.

After struggling in the two most recent playoff series, Holiday’s return to his regular-season form in Game 5 as a driver, dictating the pace of the game, while finding cutters and maximizing shot attempts at the rim was a welcome sign for Milwaukee fans.

If Antetokounmpo remains out, expect Holiday to continue playing aggressively and attacking the Hawks defense as he looks to build off of a 25-point performance and game-high 13 assists.

Offensively, the Bucks will also need players from their normal bench unit like Bobby Portis, Bryn Forbes and Pat Connaughton to step up and provide scoring support.

Portis had the game of his life in Game 5, finishing with 22 points and eight rebounds in his first career playoff start. Forbes and Connaughton’s shooting will also play key roles, especially if Atlanta does a better job of limiting shots in the paint.

The Bucks also need to play smart defensively and stay a step ahead with their schemes to match the Hawks’ personnel. If Young is active, they need to do everything they can to prevent him from turning the corner on pick-and-roll plays to either get in-rhythm jump shots, floaters or passes to open teammates for quality shots.

However, if Young is out, switching more frequently and preventing the elite Atlanta shooters from getting space will be the priority.

Milwaukee must also leverage its size inside and limit Atlanta’s second-chance opportunities by boxing out Clint Capela and John Collins down low, thus preventing them from scoring at the rim or passing to open shooters.

Atlanta Guards Must Dominate Game 6 Showdown

If the Hawks cover or win outright as slight home favorites, their guards must make shots at a high level while their defense plays with much more intensity than in Game 5. De’Andre Hunter (knee) will miss the rest of the season, while Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) is listed as probable.

If Young plays, he will play a key role as the team catalyst. The Bucks went to a more frequently switching defense in Game 5, and this prevented the Hawks’ sharpshooters from getting much space initially on pick and rolls. Young is by far the Hawks’ best player at getting downhill, and his presence in Game 6 would go a long way toward boosting their offense.

Players like Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter and Lou Williams will also play important roles whether Young is active or not. These three can all create their own shots and score at a high level in isolation, but it will be important to move the ball and create higher quality looks for these shooters.

With Milwaukee switching more often in Game 5, Atlanta will need to play with better ball movement as it won’t have as many easy pull-ups as it would against the drop and pick and roll.

Danilo Gallinari isn’t a guard, but he also scores efficiently on difficult shots like other Hawks’ shooters, and he will play a big part off the bench as someone who can punish Bucks’ switches.

Atlanta shot 51% from the field after being blown out in the first quarter of Game 5. It also posted a strong offensive rating of 117.9 for the game, while making 45.1 percent of its shots overall. If Young remains out, the Hawks have the scorers to win at home.

While these players give Atlanta a shooting advantage on the perimeter, several struggle to defend individually like Williams, Gallinari and Young (especially if his foot hinders his movement). The Hawks must communicate at a high level defensively to help these players when necessary and prevent them from getting into situations where they can be taken advantage of.

This was a huge issue for the Hawks in Game 5 as Holiday punished them with his size in the paint. After that, he could either generate looks for himself at the rim or lobs for Lopez.

Atlanta big men Capela, Collins and Onyeka Okongwu need to be in the right spots defensively to help on drives and prevent lobs. The Hawks’ main defensive priority in Game 6 should be limiting the Bucks’ points in the paint, especially in transition.

After Atlanta outscored Milwaukee by two points in the paint in Game 4, it outscored the Hawks by 30 points in the same area in Game 5. If the Hawks make the Bucks a jump-shooting team, they should feel confident about forcing a Game 7 contest.

Bucks-Hawks Pick

Both home teams have ridden the energy of their crowds in the last two games, and I expect this to continue as the Hawks return to Atlanta. While it is unclear if either Young or Antetokounmpo play, it feels more likely that Young will be available in Game 6 than Antetokounmpo.

If both are out, I will try and bet on the Hawks on the live moneyline at +110 odds or better. They should be better prepared to keep the Bucks out of the paint after a poor showing in Game 5, and have the elite shooting.

Atlanta’s offense scored efficiently without Young for the last two games as his knee has looked much more healthy during that span. After scoring eight points or fewer in six consecutive games, Bogdanovic has scored 24 points per game over the last two games while making 13 of 30 of his 3-pointers.

If Young plays (without Antetokounmpo available), I like the value on the Hawks to win by as many as four points. If both standouts play, wait to bet on Atlanta as a live underdog at +130 odds or better.

I see enough value on the Hawks for a small play at -2.5 on BetMGM (bet to -3), but keep an eye out for injury updates on FantasyLabs NBA leading up to Game 6 and bet accordingly prior to the opening tip.

Pick: Hawks -2.5 (bet to -3)