With Trae Young listed as questionable and Giannis Antetokounmpo officially out, there are once again some unknowns for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Hawks are facing elimination, so it wouldn’t be surprising by any means if Young suited up. It would have been shocking, however, if Antetokounmpo took the floor.
So, how does that impact betting for this game? Our staff explains with three different picks they’re targeting below.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a bet to skip ahead|
|Hawks -1.5||Raheem Palmer|
|Khris Middleton Over 3.5 TOs||Brandon Anderson|
|Bucks 1Q ML||Austin Wang|
|Tipoff||8:30 p.m. ET|
Raheem Palmer: The box score from Game 5 tells an interesting story.
The biggest thing you can take from the box score is that home-court advantage matters as Bucks starters Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis all had monster games, scoring 26, 25, 33 and 22 points, respectively.
In many ways, those performances felt like an aberration, and it would be shocking to see them repeat on the road. In particular, Brook Lopez returned to his form from his New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets days by shooting 14-of-18 (77.8%) from the field.
Along with the starters playing superb, they also logged heavy minutes, with Middleton and Holiday playing more than 40 minutes. Although the Bucks had the two best players on the floor even in the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 5, that won’t be the case, as we can expect Trae Young to return for the Game 6 elimination game.
The return of Young should allow the Hawks to play a more efficient offense while pushing Lou Williams back to his standard role of being a microwave scorer off the bench as opposed to the team’s primary ball-handler and playmaker.
We should also expect better performances from the Hawks at home as well. Kevin Huerter shot just 3-of-12, Bogdan Bogdanovic shot just 10-of-22 and Lou Williams was just 1-of-4 from behind the arc.
Overall, I think the Bucks played above expectation in Game 5 without their star in Antetokounmpo, but this is the spot in which they should come back down to earth.
Khris Middleton Over 3.5 Turnovers
|Pick||Khris Middleton Over 3.5 Turnovers (+100)|
|Tipoff||8:30 p.m. ET|
Brandon Anderson: Khris Middleton was fantastic in Milwaukee’s Game 5 win.
He scored 26 efficient points and added 13 rebounds and eight assists, plus two steals and a block. He did exactly what the Bucks needed in a huge pivotal game with Giannis Antetokounmpo watching from the sidelines. Middleton was awesome.
I just wish I trusted him to do that in an elimination game — especially one on the road.
Middleton has had road turnover problems at times this season. It started in the regular season. He averaged a turnover every 13.6 minutes at home but every 12.0 minutes on the road, and when someone plays as much as Middleton does, that’s an extra half-turnover a game. This season, 18 of Middleton’s 29 highest turnover games came on the road.
That trend has been exacerbated in the playoffs. In eight home games, Middleton has 20 turnovers, a respectable 2.5 per game. But in eight road games, he’s turned it over 28 times. That’s an average of 3.5 per game, a full turnover higher. He’s had at least two turnovers in every road playoff game this season and gone over 3.5 turnovers in four of them — including both games against Atlanta.
Atlanta’s defense was a no-show in Game 5, and I expect the Hawks to crank up the intensity at home in front of a frenzied crowd that doesn’t want to be watching its final home game.
And there’s another factor — with Antetokounmpo out, Middleton should play huge minutes. Even with the Bucks coasting for most of Game 5, he played 45 minutes.
I expect him to do that again, and that’s a double whammy. It’s more minutes for turnovers, and it means Middleton will be especially tired after that Game 5, his second-highest minutes total of the entire year.
Bucks 1Q Moneyline
|Pick||Bucks 1Q ML +104|
|Tipoff||8:30 p.m. ET|
Austin Wang: Down 3-2 and facing elimination, the Hawks are currently two-point favorites in Game 6 at home to force another possible Game 7 in the Eastern Conference.
Injuries are the big story here, as Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed as doubtful to play and Trae Young will be a game-time decision. The line currently implies the market expects Young to suit up.
Since March 13, the Hawks are an amazing 16-0 SU (14-2 ATS) as home favorites, per the Sports Data Query Language Database. Meanwhile, the Bucks are 1-5 SU and 1-5 ATS as an away underdog this season with their lone win coming in Game 7 against the Nets.
Despite those home and away trends favoring the Hawks full-game, I am going to take a different angle. I’m expecting Young to suit up, but he won’t be at full strength. Also, bringing a high-usage player such as Young back into the mix after a couple of games does not always go smoothly, and I could see the Hawks struggling to adjust at first.
I also believe the Bucks will be eager to close out this series and will need to come out strong to make sure they build an early lead in front of the hostile Atlanta crowd. Even without Antetokounmpo in the previous game, they got the win behind some terrific contributions from Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis dominating the paint.
The Bucks looked in-sync, and I see a potential game script in which the Bucks come out with a fast start.
I still don’t trust the heavy minutes played by Bucks stars Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, and I could see them wearing down over the course of the game. I think the Hawks also have a deeper team with Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari off the bench. I could also see potential for some Young heroics down the stretch.