Editor’s Note: Giannis Antetokounmpo is officially listed out for Game 5 on Thursday after suffering a hyperextended left knee. For real-time updates on injuries and lineups, check out our Action Labs NBA lineups page.
Hawks vs. Bucks Odds
|Moneyline||+130 / -150|
|Time||Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday and via PointsBet|
The Eastern Conference Finals shift back to Milwaukee on Thursday night, when the Bucks will host the Atlanta Hawks in a pivotal Game 5.
Both teams stole their first road game of the series before bouncing back at home, which means this series is all knotted up at 2-2.
The Hawks are coming off of a dominant 110-88 win at home despite playing without Trae Young. Giannis Antetokounmpo went down with a knee injury in the third quarter when the Bucks trailed by eight points, and the Hawks never looked back after that.
Young is questionable to play in Game 5 with a foot injury, while Antetokounmpo is doubtful to play. Milwaukee is favored by two points despite the uncertainty, but let’s see whether that’s the pick in this one.
Hawks’ Success Dependent on Guard Play
De’Andre Hunter (knee) will miss the rest of the season, while Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) is probable to play in Game 5. Clint Capela (right eye inflammation) and Young (foot) are questionable.
Atlanta’s guards, especially on offense, are the key to its success against the Bucks.
While Young, when he plays, is the catalyst for the Hawks’ offense, players like Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, and Lou Williams will also play important roles. Those 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.
Danilo Gallinari isn’t a guard, but he is also capable of scoring efficiently on difficult shots, as well, and he will play an important part off the bench as someone who can punish Bucks’ defensive switches.
While these scorers give the Hawks a shooting advantage on the perimeter, several of them 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 onto these players’ men when necessary and prevent them from getting into situations where they can be taken advantage of.
If Antetokounmpo is out, it will be much easier for the Hawks to survive without Capela inside. However, I remain relatively bullish on rookie Onyeka Okongwu and like his chances of holding his own on the interior. Okongwu has great feet as his outstanding strength and mobility for a big man is reminiscent of Bam Adebayo’s, and he can hold his own on switches as he has shown by staying in front of Antetokounmpo’s drives earlier this series.
Regardless of whether Antetokounmpo plays, Khris Middleton needs to play at a high level for the Bucks to win Game 5.
In Milwaukee’s two wins this series, Middleton has averaged 26.5 points per game while shooting a combined 21-of-39 from the field (53.8%). In the two Bucks losses, he has scored 15.5 points per game while shooting a combined 12-of-40 from the field (30%).
It is no secret that Antetokounmpo isn’t an elite 3-point shooter, and PJ Tucker isn’t able to create looks for himself. Jrue Holiday also isn’t an elite marksman, which puts pressure on Middleton’s shooting for the Bucks offense to stay in rhythm while preventing defenses from packing the paint. He simply has to play well for the Bucks to have a chance.
Middleton’s 3-point shooting will be especially important, having made 8-of-19 (42.1%) from downtown in the Bucks’ wins while going 0-of-16 in the team’s two defeats.
Khris Middleton: Eastern Conference Finals Game Logs
|Middleton 3-Point Shooting||Game Outcome||Final Score|
|Game 1||0-9 (0.0%)||Loss||113 – 116|
|Game 2||2-7 (28.6%)||Win||125 – 91|
|Game 3||6-12 (50.0%)||Win||113 – 102|
|Game 4||0-7 (0.0%)||Loss||88 – 110|
The Bucks also need to play smart defensively and adjust their schemes to the Hawks’ personnel. If Young is active, Milwaukee will need to do everything it can to prevent him from turning the corner on pick-and-rolls to either get in-rhythm jumpshots, floaters or passes to open teammates for quality shots.
However, if Williams is running the point, the Bucks must prevent him from getting into his comfort spots like the midrange, where he torched them in Game 4 to the tune of 21 points on nine attempts from the field.
Injuries will determine the value in this game. If we assume that the players who are questionable and probable play, then I like the chances of the Hawks winning outright.
If Antetokounmpo and Young both play, I would still like the value on the Hawks to win, but I would wait to bet on them live and target them at about +130 or better on the live moneyline. If Antetokounmpo plays while Young remains out, take the Bucks to win by up to four points on the spread.
If I had to bet right now, I would take the Hawks on the moneyline at +110 (with value down to +100) on PointsBet. I would recommend betting a small amount on the Hawks at this number now or waiting until the injury situation is sorted out to bet more aggressively accordingly.
While Bogdanovic struggled in the first three games of this series, he looked healthier in Game 4, finally getting perimeter shots to fall. Combine his resurgence with Huerter, Williams and Gallinari’s offensive consistency throughout this series, and I really like the Hawks’ chances of winning.
Antetokounmpo is the Bucks’ best player on both ends of the court and if he is out, I will be much more aggressive in betting on the Hawks regardless of Young’s status.
Pick: Hawks ML +130 (bet down to +100)