It’s win or go home for the Atlanta Hawks as they enter game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals just one loss away from elimination.
For the Bucks, victory would mean their first NBA Finals appearance since 1974. But they will have to beat Atlanta on their homecourt if they are to tie up the series without needing a decisive game 7 in Milwaukee.
Betting on game 6 in this playoff series is a tricky prospect because so many key variables remain unknown. Will Trae Young make it back from injury in time for the Hawks? What about Giannis Antetokounmpo? What if one of those two is fit, but the other is not? All those variables could influence the outcome of this clash.
What to expect in game 6 of the Bucks vs Hawks
It was meant to be Giannis’ Bucks against Trae’s Hawks. And for as long as the two stars remained healthy, that’s exactly how it played out.
But with the Greek Freak doubtful due to a knee injury and Ice Trae questionable owing to a bruised ankle, the Bucks and Hawks now face the prospect of playing one of the most important games in each franchise’s history without their leading player.
That’s bad news for fans, but it doesn’t spell disaster for each team. Both Milwaukee and Atlanta have proven that they can win, and win convincingly, when missing their go-to guy this series. And both teams have shown that they can chalk up big wins against the other while on the road.
Four Bucks players scored more than 20 points in game 5, as the entire team worked together to replace Giannis’ production. Brook Lopez was especially dominant, ending with 33 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks, with Khris Middleton (26 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists), Jrue Holiday (25 points, 13 assists) and Bobby Portis (22 points, 8 rebounds) all putting up big numbers.
Atlanta adapted well without Young in game 4 but found it tougher to cope in game 5, which they trailed from start to finish despite a solid game from Bogdan Bogdanovich (28 points including 7-for-16 from downtown).
The Hawks will need to rediscover their defensive form close to the basket if they are to force a game 7. Even without Giannis’ presence, Milwaukee scored as many points in the paint in the first half of game 5 as they did in all of game 4.
The question is: can players like Lopez and Portis repeat their game 5 heroics, or was the Bucks’ domination a fluke that will not be repeated?
Betting on game 6 - Milwaukee Bucks v Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks gave the Bucks a beating the last time they had a home game and are priced as the favorite on the Moneyline in this game -130. A $100 bet will earn you a $76.92 profit if they win, versus the $110 you will make if the Bucks +100 sneak the series.
Sportsbooks have this game at a two-point spread priced at -110. Atlanta has a positive record against the spread this seating, going 26-21 when they are at least one-point favorites and 45-42 overall.
The over/under has been set at 217, and though only two games in the series have gone over the line so far, the high-scoring game 5 easily blew past that target. With Giannis most likely missing, the Hawks -105 should have more offensive opportunities while the Bucks -115 will most likely get the ball into the hands of their perimeter shooters. With that in mind, a bet on the over is where the smart money is.
Betting Pick for the NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game 6
Atlanta Hawks -2.5