The Milwaukee Bucks annihilated the Atlanta Hawks in game 2 of this NBA eastern conference finals series, making up for a game 1 loss in style to tie the series.
It ended 125-91 at the Fiserv Arena, with the bookmakers’ predictions about the Bucks roaring back into the series proving to be correct. With the series now heading back to Atlanta for two games, will the Bucks be able to sew up their first NBA finals appearance since 1974?
For bookmakers, this is a one-horse race: they are betting on the Bucks storming to a game 3 win and have them at -210 to the Hawks’ +175, despite their home court advantage. A $100 bet on Milwaukee for the five-point spread will net you $190.
Hawks v Bucks - game 2 analysis
Stung by their game 1 loss, the Bucks put up a 43-point second quarter and ended the half with a 32-point lead. It was a total washout.
If game 1 in this series was the Trae Young show, then game 2 introduced Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday to this matchup. The Bucks duo combined for 47 points, with Giannis attacking the basket with grace and power and the Hawks totally unable to stop him.
Jrue Holiday kept up his offensive contribution while adding the defensive hustle he’s known for, frustrating Trae Young into a series of unforced errors. Young ended the game with nine turnovers and just six buckets made, on 6-of-16 shooting, including 1-of-8 from beyond the arc.
Atlanta leaned hard into their reliance on Young, and got burnt for it. The Hawks are the NBA’s best offensive team when playing against teams that play drop coverage, but become much less frightening when teams neutralise Young by sealing those central lanes shut. The team needs another offensive outlet if they are to have a chance in this series.
Betting guide - Hawks v Bucks game 3
The money is on the Bucks to continue where they left off and take game 3 on the road. But watch out: the numbers say Milwaukee does poorly when favoured by at least five points, going 25-31 against the spread. The opposite is true of the Hawks, who are 15-13 against that spread.
Historically, this is a tight matchup: the two teams have played 24 postseason games against each other, including the two in this series, and are tied at 12 wins apiece. This season so far, of the five times they have matched up, the Bucks took away three victories.
The over/under for game 3 is at 224.5 points at odds of -110. The Bucks are averaging 109.6 points during the playoffs to the Hawks’ 105.9, which suggests you’d be better off betting on the lower side of this bet. Those totals are lower than their regular season averages, though, and game 2 showed just how the Bucks can turn on the offense if they’re in the right frame of mind.
One thing to keep in mind is that the shooting in game 2 was out of character for both teams. The Bucks shot significantly better than their average (52.1% versus 45.8%) while the Hawks underperformed, shooting 41.5% versus their regular 44.6%. If those averages revert to the mean, you can expect a tighter game.
Milwaukee now go to Atlanta hoping to punch a hole right through this series. We’ve seen them do that on the road during these playoffs: they wrecked the Heat twice in Miami and broke Brooklyn hearts in game 7 too.
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