The Hawks snatched game 1 of the NBA eastern conference finals from the Milwaukee Bucks and are suddenly looking like a safer bet to make the franchise’s first NBA finals appearance in 60 years.
It was the Hawks’ first conference finals win since 2015 and they are the first team since 1999 to win game 1 on the road in three straight playoff series.
The third-seeded Bucks were the bookies’ favorite but have now lost homecourt advantage as well as their aura of invincibility at the Fiserv Forum during the playoffs - this was their first home loss of the postseason.
What can you expect from game 2 of this NBA conference finals playoff series?
Atlanta Hawks Gameplan - Ride Their Young Superstar
You cannot talk about the Hawks’ gameplan without starting at Trae Young.
Young was already their go-to guy before game 1, but Wednesday’s virtuoso performance - 48 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds - took him one step closer to superstar status.
All of Atlanta’s offense runs through the 22-year-old guard, and you can expect that to continue as the series progresses: Young created, assisted, or scored 80 of the 108 points Atlanta had while he was on the floor during Game 1.
What the Hawks have to ensure is that Young gets the backup he needs. John Collins (23 points, 15 rebounds) and Clint Capella, who got the game-winning hoop with just under 30 seconds left on the clock and clocked a game-high 19 rebounds, both stepped up on Wednesday night.
You’d expect Bogdan Bogdanovic to be part of that discussion, too, but the guard is clearly still struggling with injury. He was just 1-6 in game 1 and is listed as questionable for game 2.
Milwaukee Bucks Gameplan - Get Better Shots
Milwaukee will look back on game 1 with some regret. They were dominant when attacking the basket, outscoring the Hawks 70-54 in the paint with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the charge.
Giannis got 28 of his 34 points close to the basket and even netted most of his free throws, which have been a clear weak point for him this postseason.
Jrue Holiday had 33 on 14-25 shooting and added 10 assists, but struggled to keep the on-fire Trae Young in check despite being one of the league’s best defenders.
What really hurt the Bucks was their shooting and the complete disaster that was Khris Middleton’s game 1 performance. Middleton tends to run hot and cold and Wednesday was one of his flattest performances all season: he shot just 6-for-23 and was 0-9 from beyond the arc and looked lost for most of his 41 minutes of playing time.
They were also outhustled 51-45 on rebounds by the Hawks, despite being the NBA’s best rebounding team this postseason. Still, there are positives for Milwaukee to take. They only lost this game by 3 points, they rarely gave up the ball and they limited Young to 1-9 shooting when they ditched Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis late in the game. Had Middleton shot even a little better, we could be talking about a Bucks game 1 victory.
Hawks vs Bucks betting on game 2
Atalanta beat both the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers in game 1 this playoff season, but followed both those up with game 2 losses. The sportsbooks expect that trend to continue here, with the Moneyline having the Hawks at +280 to the still-favored Bucks at -365.
Things are tighter on the 8-point spread, where bookies have both teams at +110. If you expect this to be a close game, keep in mind that the Hawks are 13-2 in games decided in 5 points or less this season.
But remember: despite their game 1 loss, the Bucks have an incredible homecourt record and bounced back from an 0-2 start against the Brooklyn Nets in the conference semis. Don’t be surprised if they win tonight, but the points given to Atlanta is too much.
Atlanta Hawks +8
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