Hawks vs. Bucks: 2021 Eastern Conference Finals preview
The Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks are set to clash on Wednesday, June 23 in Game 1 of the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, and it's shaping up to be a wild series.
Let’s take a deep dive into this intriguing matchup and predict who will be the last team standing.
NBA Championship 2020/2021
Mon, August 30 2021, 11:57 PM
Los Angeles Clippers
Hawks keep proving doubters wrong
The Hawks have been underdogs since the beginning of the 2021 NBA Playoffs despite winning the Southeast Division over the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat. They quickly shut down the New York Knicks hype with a gentleman’s sweep, and followed that up with a shocking upset of the No. 1-seed Philadelphia 76ers in seven games.
When you think of the Hawks, you probably immediately think of their offense and shooting. However, their defense has been the biggest reason for their postseason success. They are only allowing 105.0 points per game in the playoffs. They are also averaging 6.0 steals and 4.6 blocks per game.
Bucks are on a mission
The Bucks are out for revenge, and now they're halfway there. Last season was supposed to be the year they finally won a title, but they were dethroned early, and were overlooked as a middle of the road team coming into this postseason.
Milwaukee took down the Heat in a revenge series in a dominating sweep. They then took down the clear favorites in the East, the Brooklyn Nets, in a stellar seven game series. Now they will be looking to get to their first NBA finals since the 1973-74 season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been an absolute monster in these playoffs, and is averaging 28.8 points, 11.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 0.9 blocks, and 0.7 steals per game. He also has a 19.66 player efficiency rating, which is higher than any other player remaining in the postseason.
Hawks vs. Bucks X-Factors
The big X-factor for the Hawks is going to be the play of Clint Capela and John Collins. The Bucks are an excellent rebounding team and these two will need to hit the glass hard. Capela is averaging 11.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in the playoffs, while Collins is averaging 8.3 rebounds and 0.8 blocks. They are going to need to contain Giannis and Brook Lopez in the paint.
The big X-factor for the Bucks is Jrue Holiday. The Bucks point guard is struggling mightily with his shooting in the playoffs, but is still finding ways to contribute. In the first round, he tallied nine steals in a four game sweep against the Heat. In Game 7 against the Nets, Holiday made three massive late game shots after starting 2-18 from the field. He just needs to be there when he's needed.
Hawks vs. Bucks series prediction
Don't expect a sweep. The Bucks are deservedly favored to win this series, but the Hawks just keep proving doubters wrong and will again. Capela and Collins will clog the lane for the Bucks and make them have to make tough, contested shots to win. The Bucks will need Holiday to show his defensive prowess on Trae Young, and will need him to improve his shooting from the first two series.
Ultimately, I like the Bucks to continue their revenge tour and move onto the NBA Finals, and see Milwaukee winning this series in seven games.