Before the 2021 NBA Playoffs began, few would have projected an Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks. Both teams were betting underdogs in at least one series, and both needed seven games to topple opponents perceived to be superior in the second round. However, the Bucks and Hawks begin their best-of-seven clash on Wednesday at Fiserv Forum, with a berth in the 2021 NBA Finals on the line.
The Hawks enter the series as the underdogs, which is a role Nate McMillan’s team is familiar with at this juncture. Trae Young is enjoying a fantastic playoff run, averaging 29.1 points and 10.4 assists per game, and Atlanta has done just enough to get by offensively. Still, it is the defensive effort from the Hawks that is at least partially responsible for their run, as Atlanta is allowing only 107.7 points per 100 possessions through two series. They will have a challenge in the series against a talented Bucks team, but McMillan has found success with a jumbo lineup featuring Danilo Gallinari, John Collins and Clint Capela playing together. That group is +27 in 55 minutes and, if Bogdan Bogdanovic continues to operate in a limited capacity, Atlanta may be forced to lean on their size.
Milwaukee’s defense has also carried its water to this point, with the Bucks leading the playoffs in allowing only 1.02 points per possession. That is a staggering figure when remembering the Bucks faced the Nets in the previous round, and Milwaukee leads the postseason in defensive rebound rate, free throw rate allowed and points allowed in the paint. Beyond the numbers, the Bucks seemingly have the overall talent advantage, particularly if Giannis Antetokounmpo can play at his optimal level. The Hawks do have options to slow him down, but Atlanta doesn’t have perfect defenders to deploy against Khris Middleton, and Milwaukee could find success against a more traditional defensive scheme after scuffling against Brooklyn’s switch-based attack.
Game 1 TV Info
Tip Time: Wednesday, June 23; 8:30 p.m. ET
TV Network: TNT
Game 1 Betting Lines (via DraftKings Sportsbook)
Series Prices: Bucks (-480), Hawks (+350)
Spread: Bucks -8 (-110), Hawks +8 (-110)
Total: Over 225.5 (-113), Under 225.5 (-109)
Money Line: Bucks (-360), Hawks (+285)
Game 1 Player Scoring Props (via DraftKings Sportsbook)
Kevin Huerter O/U 13.5 Points (Over -107/Under -120)
PJ Tucker O/U 4.5 (-125/-103)
Jrue Holiday O/U 18.5 (-124/+100)
Khris Middleton O/U 24.5 (-113/-113)
John Collins O/U 14.5 (-127/+100)
Clint Capela O/U 11.5 (+110/-139)
Giannis Antetokounmpo O/U 33.5 (-107/-120)
Brook Lopez O/U 13.5 (-113/-113)
Trae Young O/U 28.5 (-108/-118)