As quickly as the Milwaukee Bucks lost homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference final they regained it, knocking off the Atlanta Hawks 113-102 on Sunday night to take a 2-1 series lead. The Bucks can move a step closer to their first Finals appearance in half a century with a win Wednesday in Game 4. And the Hawks could be impacted by an ankle injury to Trae Young.
Young exited briefly after getting hurt in the second half and wasn’t the same once he returned. The Bucks overcame a fourth quarter deficit holding the Hawks to 17 points in the final stanza covering the 5-point closing spread for their second straight payout. And they are favored once again hitting the board as a 6-point favorite on the betting line.
Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final takes place on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 and will air live on TNT with tip off at 8:30 p.m. ET from State Farm Arena.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Atlanta Hawks Game 4 Odds
Spread: Bucks -6 | Atlanta Hawks +6 [BET NOW]
Money Line: Bucks -6 | Atlanta Hawks +6 [BET NOW]
Total: 221 [BET NOW]
Season to Date
We know what Giannis Antetokounmpo can do since he’s been doing it for several seasons winning a pair of NBA MVP awards in the process. One thing that makes the Bucks so good is that they get support from their entire roster. With Khris Middleton busting out on Sunday the Bucks showed how good they can be.
Giannis was his busy self scoring 33 points despite missing more than half his free throw attempts. The game would have ended much like Game 2 had Antetokounmpo been sharper from the line. No worries, though. Middleton caught fire matching his playoff career-high with 38 points, which was more than he scored in the first two games combined, and the Bucks grabbed control of the series improving to 10-4 SU and 8-6 ATS this postseason. Now, if they can get Jrue Holiday straightened out the Bucks could find themselves on the brink of advancing.
The biggest concern for the Hawks is the health of Young. He was admittedly bothered by the ankle injury and unless he can’t walk Young will be on the floor Tuesday night. He scored 35 points knocking down several long distance three-pointers to help the Hawks control the game for much of the first three quarters. However, with Young struggling after his return the Hawks did the same.
Atlanta doesn’t have the secondary scoring like the Bucks have after Giannis and that showed with a poor 17-point final quarter in Game 3. Middleton outscored them in the final frame by netting 20 points. The Hawks cashed the UNDER in a second straight game and for the sixth time in the last seven outings.
There is no guarantee Middleton will stay hot, but his performance on Sunday was a thing of beauty for the Bucks. The team’s second leading scorer during the regular season made just 33.9 percent of his shots in the previous three games while going 4 of 23 from behind the arc. He topped his average in those games by knocking down 20 points in the fourth quarter while hitting 15 of 26 shots overall and 6 of 12 from distance. “I just finally got them to go. I’ve been struggling some with the ball going in the basket. Finally they started dropping for me at the right time,” Middleton said.
Holiday made just 2 of 11 shots for six points, but he was able to contribute in other ways. He was a blanket defender at times tasked with guarding Young. He also contributed 12 assists. In all the Bucks shot 51 percent from the field and made 11 of 29 triples.
It’s not like the Hawks haven’t been in this situation before. They started this series the same way they opened the quarterfinals. Atlanta lost Games 2 and 3 to Philadelphia only to storm back and win the series in seven games. And just like how Ben Simmons struggled from the free throw line in the previous series, the Hawks have potentially a way to shift the balance in their favor. Fouling Giannis might be a strategy moving forward taking him away from his bread and butter.
If the Hawks find a way to neutralize Giannis they’ll still need to score, which becomes more difficult if Young is still hurting. Young scored 32 of his 35 points before getting hurt. His passive approach in the fourth quarter simply didn’t work. He needs to play with the confidence he showed in Game 1 when he scored 48 points leading the Hawks to a victory.
Bucks vs Hawks Game 4 Prediction
Our picks: Milwaukee Bucks -6 and UNDER 221
With Holiday and P.J. Tucker the Bucks have committed to defense and it’s paid off. They kept the Hawks in check the last two games while Middleton found his touch in Game 3. The Bucks showed how dangerous they can be with a fourth quarter rally and the Hawks can ill afford to have Young at less than 100 percent.
Check out today’s NBA odds.