The Milwaukee Bucks got what they wanted but they could have had much more. And what they lost might be bigger. The Bucks split games on the road against the Atlanta Hawks to regain homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference finals, but they blew an opportunity to take a commanding lead by losing Game 4 110-88.
It was a frustrating defeat against a team without its top player. But credit the Hawks for rising to the occasion with Trae Young on the sideline. I said injuries have dominated the NBA this postseason and the Bucks aren’t exempt. Giannis Antetokounmpo exited Tuesday’s encounter after hyperextending his knee with his status in question for Thursday’s contest.
Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final takes place on Thursday, July 1, 2021 and will air live on TNT with tip off at 8:30 p.m. ET from Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
Atlanta Hawks vs Milwaukee Bucks Game 5 Odds
Spread: Hawks +3 | Bucks -3 [BET NOW]
Money Line: Hawks +130 | Bucks -150 [BET NOW]
Total: 216 [BET NOW]
Hawks So Far…
The Hawks dodged a bullet on Tuesday leveling the series without the services of Young. In his absence they needed some seldom used players to step up and no one was bigger than Cam Reddish. Making just his second appearance in a game since February, Reddish scored 12 points with five rebounds. And like they have during their run to the playoffs and once in the postseason, the Hawks never gave an inch.
They were relentless on defense holding the Bucks to 39 percent shooting overall and got contributions from nearly everyone who took the floor. Six players scored in double figures led by Young’s replacement in the starting lineup Lou Williams with 21. The offense figured to regress without Young and his nearly 30 points per game, but they rallied around their fallen leader to post their second-highest point total in the last eight games.
Bucks So Far…
Now it’s the Bucks who have to be concerned about the health of their leading scorer. They also have issues with their No. 2 point producer. After a rough first half, Giannis came out firing to start the third quarter scoring eight straight points. And just when it looked like the Bucks were ready to make a move Antetokounmpo crumbled to the floor in agony while trying to defend an alley-oop.
The injury looked nasty but the former two-time MVP was able to limp off the floor and later returned to the Bucks bench giving everyone hope that it wasn’t as bad as it looked. If Giannis can’t go on Thursday the Bucks will need Khris Middleton more than ever.
It’s been a rocky postseason for Middleton, who struggled shooting the basketball on Tuesday. A game after setting a career-high with 38 points, he went 6 of 17 from the field and missed all seven three-point attempts. The teams played below the closing total for a third straight game and the UNDER is 7-1 in Milwaukee’s last eight.
Atlanta Hawks Game 5
We’re still unsure of Young’s status moving forward, but the Hawks have to feel good about what they accomplished on Tuesday. In what can only be described as a team effort, they outhustled the Bucks on their way to a convincing victory with everyone contributing in some form.
They needed a group effort and got it offensively from Williams and Bogdan Bogdanovic, who hit six three-pointers and scored 20 points. They actually looked more fluid without Young on the floor moving the basketball and making shots.
Make no mistake, though, they are not a better team without their star point guard. Everybody stepped up and the Bucks probably let out a sigh of relief knowing their Game 1 tormentor wasn’t going to play. Things will certainly be different on Thursday.
Milwaukee Bucks Game 5
While the lead up to Game 4 was all about Young the focus ahead of Thursday’s matchup will center on Giannis. The Bucks actually had a winning record in games Antetokounmpo missed during the regular season, but that was the regular season. There is much more on the line now. And just like the Hawks did in Game 4, Milwaukee will rally around their MVP. Will it be enough?
Even with Giannis on the floor the Bucks need Middleton to be a presence. Other than his outburst in Game 3 he’s been a non-factor and the offense has struggled. For the third time in 10 games the Bucks scored fewer than 90 points. That was almost unheard of during the season when they led the NBA with over 120 points per game. No doubt the Bucks have the talent to overcome the absence of Antetokounmpo; they might have to do that on Thursday.
Hawks vs Bucks Game 5 Predictions
Our picks: Milwaukee Bucks -3 and UNDER 216
Given the injuries to each team’s top player we have yet to see odds surface. But like the Hawks did in Game 4 with young on the shelf I expect the Bucks to pick it up on Thursday, assuming Giannis doesn’t play.
And even if he does that was a scary site and he surely won’t be his explosive self. Besides, the Bucks have been dangerous at home and this is a pivotal point in the series, one the Bucks have looked forward to for years.
Check out today’s NBA odds.