Hawks vs. Bucks: Game 1 betting odds, preview, and pick
After two of the best Game 7’s we’ve seen in years, the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks find themselves facing off in the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals. Had Kevin Durant’s toe been a little smaller or the Philadelphia 76ers not blown a 26-point second-half home lead, this matchup could look very different. But the game of basketball is one of inches, and both remaining teams have earned their spot.
As we approach any new series, a Game 1 typically offers the most mystery and intrigue. Neither team has faced each other yet in postseason play, so the successes or failings of any regular season matchups can oftentimes be disregarded (see: Hawks vs New York Knicks). Much has yet to be determined, but let’s take a look at the things we do know heading into tonight's series opener at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
Thu, June 24 2021, 12:40 AM
The Bucks have dominated the Hawks in recent years
The line for the opening game is Milwaukee -7.5. The home team Bucks have won 11 of the last 13 games between these teams over the last four seasons, and as the No. 3 seed they were obviously more impressive over the course of the season than the fifth-seeded Hawks. With former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo on their side as the best player on the court, it adds up to big Bucks favoritism.
The Hawks are more than just Trae Young
The Hawks, however, have been arguably the most underrated team in the NBA since Nate McMillan took over as head coach. Trae Young gets much of the attention for his flashy handles and deep range, but the rest of the roster is really overachieving.
Kevin Huerter had the hot hand in Atlanta's Game 7 win against the 76ers, as he scored a team-high 27 points. Veteran Danilo Gallinari has been a consistent scoring option, and the seemingly ageless Lou Williams continues to be an occasional spark off the bench.
Clint Capela led the league in rebounding, and John Collins appears to be in his prime. All together, the Hawks are a well-constructed roster with Young capable of being the dynamic piece that creates mismatches for the role players around him.
The Bucks need a big game from Middleton
Antetokounmpo provides the star power for the Bucks, but much of Milwaukee's success is often dictated by how productive Khris Middleton is offensively. In the four wins against the Nets, Middleton averaged 28.7 points per game. In the three losses, he averaged just 18 points per game. For his career against the Hawks, Middleton has averaged just 15.9 points.
Atlanta will cover the spread
The Hawks are 12-3 against the spread in their last 15 games in Milwaukee, and are on a 4-1 streak against the spread as road underdogs in these playoffs. Atlanta is scrappy, and should be able to generate enough offense to keep this game close until the very end.
Score prediction: Bucks 113, Hawks 109