By Greg Frank
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#3 Milwaukee Bucks vs. #5 Atlanta Hawks
Milwaukee leads series 3-2 (Game 6 – Saturday at 8:30 PM ET on TNT)
Analysis: Help me understand this line. Both teams have been playing down their franchise superstars as Giannis Antetokounmpo is sidelined with a knee injury for Milwaukee and Trae Young is nursing a foot ailment for Atlanta. The Bucks clobbered the Hawks in Game 5 in Milwaukee, winning 123-112 in a game that really wasn’t even that close after Milwaukee led by 14 after the first quarter, and the Hawks are short chalk tonight. The Bucks were 4.5-point favorites in Game 5 and certainly looked like the better team as well. Last time I checked, State Farm Arena isn’t exactly a house of horrors for Hawks opponents, as Atlanta is just 4-3 both straight up and against the spread throughout the postseason at home.
Is Young closer to coming back than Antetokounmpo is? Maybe. But it’s also the playoffs and we know teams are always going to keep their cards close to their vests when it comes to injury updates. So we’re always going to be left guessing to a degree on that one. Nevertheless, it certainly feels like a fishy line in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and I’m not going to take the bait on this rod. I highly doubt Brook Lopez is Tim Duncan 2.0 again for the Bucks here tonight. Lopez’s dominant 33-point outing in Game 5 was the headline performance for Milwaukee, and the Bucks crushed the Hawks down low en route to winning the points in the paint battle 66-36. I don’t believe the buckets are going to come as easily for the Bucks in Game 6, and that by itself should keep this game competitive. Remember, while Milwaukee had its way with Atlanta in Game 5, Atlanta also had an equally impressive whitewashing in Game 4, winning 110-88 to even the series at two games apiece. The fact of the matter is, the gap between these two teams isn’t as wide as many people thought when the series began, and just making it to a Game 6 is a good indicator of that. My money’s on ATL punching back tonight and forcing a Game 7.
Best Bet: Hawks -2