The Bucks are game away from the NBA Finals. On Thursday they hosted the Hawks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals with both teams missing key contributors. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Trae Young, DeAndre Hunter and Donte DiVincenzo all were out but the Bucks did a better job of replacing their stars. Milwaukee jumped ahead by as many as 20 points in the first half and out a 123-112 victory to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
Brook Lopez led the Bucks with a playoff career-high 33 points, Khris Middleton finished with 26 points, Jrue Holiday scored 25 and Bobby Portis added 22. A hobbled Bogdan Bogdanovic stepped up for Hawks with 28 points but his teammates couldn’t give him enough support.
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer gets a lot of criticism but his team actually has a good system even outside of Giannis. This was displayed in that Game 4 against the Heat at the Bubble last year too when Khris Middleton went off. The Bucks moved the ball well and play hard on both ends.
Middleton is not explosive or lightning quick, but his timing and patience is elite. He is so skilled and a good 1-on-1 player. A three-level scorer. This is the closest the Bucks have been to the NBA Finals in the Giannis era.
Again, they have a great group of role players, the additions of Holiday and Tucker plus experience in the moment and getting some breaks with Nets and Hawks injuries. Overall, they’re a real squad.
Replacing Giannis with Bobby Portis gave the Bucks the spacing that Brook Lopez typically provided, so he could operate more inside. Five of Lopez’s six dunks came through some variation of the pick-and-roll.
Team to Win (Regular Time)
• Milwaukee Bucks: 2.17
• Atlanta Hawks: 1.75
• Milwaukee Bucks: +2.5 (1.91)
• Atlanta Hawks: -2.5 (1.90)
• Over 216.5 (1.90)
• Under 216.5 (1.90)
Key Points to Consider
The Bucks just did a remarkable job of putting Lopez in position to score easy baskets and Game 5 was the first time all playoffs in which Middleton and Holiday both scored 25 or more points in a single game. This happened four times in the regular season… with three of those games came with Giannis either out or getting hurt in the game itself. Middleton and Holiday both benefitted from the extra space on the floor and the extra touches Giannis’ absence provided.
Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 21 of his 28 points beyond the arc (he was 7-for-16, 43.75 percent) but it was clear that he wasn’t attacking the basket. Will he recover more mobility in a must-win Game 6. If Trae Young (plus-7.6 Offensive Box Plus/Minus in the playoffs) is going to be out on Saturday, the Hawks desperately need Bogdanovic to be their main playmaker. Lou Williams replaced Young in the starting lineup and played well again with 17 points in 35 minutes but he turned the ball over six times. The Hawks need him to take better care of the ball and If Young can’t go they will desperate to get as many points as possible from these two players.
With Giannis Antetokounmpo (plus-5.3 Offensive Box Plus/Minus in the playoffs) and Trae Young possibly out and with the Hawks playing a must-win game and both teams improving on defense, I see this game going Under the total.
The Under is 6-1-1 in Milwaukee’s last eight games when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game, 5-2 in Milwaukee’s last seven games against a team with a winning straight up record, 4-0 in Atlanta’s last four games following an ATS loss, 4-0 in Atlanta’s last four games following a straight up loss, 7-1 in Atlanta’s last eight games playing on one day’s rest, 5-2 in the last seven meetings and 5-0 in the last five meetings in Atlanta.
For the Bucks, Khris Middleton is expected to score 20.6 points with 6.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists, making 7.1 field goals in 16.2 attempts.
For the Hawks, Trae Young is projected to finish with 26.5 points, 9.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds, making 7.9 field goals in 18.2 attempts.
Two-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend pick on the Hawks in this one. Average score in simulations is Milwaukee Bucks 107.7 to Atlanta Hawks 107.4.