Hawks @ Bucks Predictions: Back a low scoring game in opener
In this series opener, Zach Rainey shares what looks valuable ahead of Game 1...
On Tuesday night, we saw one of the wildest endings to a NBA Playoff Basketball game in recent memory.
Clippers superstar Paul George went to the line up one with nine seconds remaining and missed both free throws. That opened the door for Phoenix head coach Monty Williams to draw up the perfect play for center Deanre Ayton on an alley-oop lob to secure the win and go up 2-0 heading to Los Angeles.
Tonight, we have Game 1 between the host Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, with Milwaukee as an 8-point favorite.
Milwaukee is coming off a series that nobody thought they could win. Sure, it took Kyrie getting hurt and a less than 100 percent James Harden for the Bucks to really be competitive in that series, but you can’t put an asterisk next to everything. When we go back and look at this season and that series years down the road, those things will be footnotes, but Milwaukee is the team that’s here.
On the flip side, the Atlanta Hawks were able to take advantage of Philadelphia’s log jam on offense to get here, after defeating Philly three times at their place.
Atlanta and Milwaukee played three times in the regular season, with the Bucks winning the series 2-1. However, Trae Young didn’t play for the Hawks in two of those games, and they were also without Clint Capela for one. In one of the games where Trae was out, De’Andre Hunter had stepped up to lead the team in scoring. They obviously won’t have that luxury this time around.
A lot of this series, particularly Game 1, is going to hinge on the health of Bogdan Bogdanovic. He was essential for the Hawks this season, but wasn’t the same after getting hurt late in the Philly series and is questionable for Game 1. However, if Kevin Huerter can keep up the level of play we saw from him in Game 6 and Game 7, that might be enough to compensate.
Because there are so many variables tonight, I think I’m leaning toward the under 225. Both teams played efficient brands of basketball to win their series. Also, Milwaukee has been able to hold teams to a pretty low point total in their home arena compared to some of the shootouts they were in on the road.
Just because there’s so many things unknown about these teams head-to-head, I would almost be willing to buy the spread up to Hawks +10 if you can. Even with all of the variables, I think the game stays closer than that.
For our prop of the night, I like Giannis Antetokounmpo’s over 5.5 assists. I’m eager to see how Atlanta defends him and the advantages he will be presented with different matchups. With it being a home game, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to get his teammates going tonight before having to put his foot on the gas late if needed.