The Eastern Conference Finals are finally upon us. The Bucks and Hawks both outlasted higher seeds in round two to get here, so it will be hard to watch one of them go down before the Finals. A 2X MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo leads his team against the playoff MVP Trae Young and the upstart Hawks.
The most impressive stat about the Hawks playoff run would have to be this: They have posted a 5-2 road record through two rounds, going 3-3 at home in return. They have found a way to silence the two loudest crowds in the East over the past couple of rounds. Three wins in Philly is something most teams don’t get over a 3-year span. They did it in a single postseason matchup.
Milwaukee meanwhile won a critical seventh game in Brooklyn. They have gone 5-0 at home in the playoffs and 1-3 on the road. All that matters is that they broke the trend. The home team was undefeated until the final game of their series with the Nets, and they made sure to buck that trend in the finale. They are still standing because Kevin Durant’s feet are too big.
Let’s see who comes out more aggressive in the series opener.
The game 1 spread is a bit high, set at MIL -7. The over/under is set at 227.
Hawks Seek Game 1 Win
Dating back to a March 24, 2017 matchup, Milwaukee is 12-2 against Atlanta during the last 14 meetings between the teams. Of course, that never matters in the playoffs. The Hawks picked up a win during their final get-together of the season a few months back, claiming a seven-point win. And now, it’s playoff mode; throw that out.
It is all about adjustments, and it will be interesting to see who covers Trae Young. Jrue Holiday will probably get the first crack. And more importantly, how will the Hawks choose to cover Giannis Antetokounmpo. He is different than anything they saw in the first two rounds. The same is true of Khris Middleton.
John Collins will be the X-factor on both ends of the floor, while Kevin Huerter is going to need to become a defensive stopper.
Bucks Seeking 1-0 Start
Milwaukee was down 0-2 against the Nets last round before winning four of the final five games. And in round one, they swept the Heat. Most notable is their five-game home winning streak to open the playoffs and that they were great at home all season. The crowd getting bigger has only given them a boost.
Giannis could be in for a monster series, though he will have to convert his foul shots. There is a chance Atlanta could choose to hack him as they did Ben Simmons. However, Antetokounmpo is obviously a better shooter there.
The keys to victory lie within the three-point game, attacking Trae on D and making sure to win the turnover battle. Atlanta is careful with the rock.
Game 1 Stays Tight
Make sure not to bet the Bucks spread here. The series opener will be close. Don’t forget that Atlanta beat Philly in the first game of the series on the road.
FREE PLAY: ATL +7
OVER/UNDER: OVER 227
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