A light NBA betting schedule is kicked off Thursday by a matchup between Eastern Conference division leaders when the Atlanta Hawks host the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks were expected to be near the top of the standings but the Hawks have been a major surprise—especially considering they were six games under .500 and fired their coach at the beginning of March.
We'll give our thoughts on how this battle between some of the East's best plays out in our free NBA picks and predictions for Bucks vs. Hawks, with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Bucks vs Hawks odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
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NBA sharp money and line movement reportBy Patrick Everson
Milwaukee landed on PointsBet USA's odds board at -5.5 overnight, darted to -7 this morning, then receded all the way to -3.5 this afternoon, with Giannis Antetokounmpo questionable to play. As of 4:45 p.m. ET, the Bucks are -4 while taking 59 percent of tickets and 63 percent of money on the spread. The total moved from 228.5 to 230, with the Over attracting 84 percent of tickets/89 percent of money.Check out the full line movement for this game
Bucks at Hawks betting preview
Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo F (Questionable).
Hawks: Trae Young G (Questionable), Danilo Gallinari F (Questionable), John Collins F (Out), Tony Snell G (Out), Cam Reddish F (Out), De'Andre Hunter F (Out), Kris Dunn G (Out).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Hawks are 8-1 ATS in their last nine home games. Find more NBA betting trends for Bucks vs. Hawks.
Against the spread (ATS) pick
(Editor's Note: Picks for Bucks vs. Hawks were made prior to Thursday evening's news that Giannis Antetokounmpo would suit up for Milwaukee against Atlanta.)
The Bucks' two-time reigning MVP hasn't played since suffering a knee injury on April 2 — a span of six games. Milwaukee is 3-3 SU (2-4 ATS) in that span, as it still has a number of capable players — namely Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday — that have picked up the slack in Giannis' absence, combining for 37.4 points per game.
Milwaukee enters tonight's game having won two in a row, by a combined 62 points, but those wins came against Orlando and Minnesota (two of the four worst teams in the Association), while the other non-Giannis win was against Sacramento, which is also last in its division.
And none of those teams are as good, or as hot, as the Atlanta Hawks.
After sitting at 14-20 on March 2, Atlanta fired head coach Lloyd Pierce and promoted Nate McMillan to the main role—and the team has responded by going 16-5 SU since that change.
The Hawks are dealing with a plethora of injuries themselves, highlighted by Young but also including second and third-leading scorers John Collins and De'Andre Hunter, but they are still 7-1 SU and ATS in their last eight games.
During this stretch, Atlanta has been getting it done by limiting opponents in the paint and forcing them to take difficult threes, as the Hawks are giving up 37.8 triple attempts per game (fifth-most in the league) but are holding opponents to just 32.5 percent from beyond the arc (third-best in the NBA).
An update saying either Antetokounmpo or Young playing will obviously swing this line, but we're going to assume both of these guys will not suit up tonight. With the rosters as they are, how well the Hawks are playing (8-1 ATS in last nine at State Farm Arena), and Milwaukee not beating anyone remotely decent without Giannis, it's hard to say no to Atlanta getting points on its home court.
PREDICTION: Hawks +4.5 (-110)
Early money has backed the Over, as the total for this game has gone up from the opening line, but for us, that just means more value in being contrarian and betting the Under.
The Bucks are one of the better Over bets this season at 32-21-1 O/U, but they very well likely will be without Giannis' 28.8 points per game again tonight. Milwaukee has hit the Over in four of the six games since Giannis was sidelined, but it has also faced four of the 10 worst scoring defenses since the calendar flipped to April.
Atlanta is more in the middle of the pack this month in allowing 111.6 ppg and, as mentioned above, have been keeping teams from shooting the 3-ball well—something the Bucks rely on for offense.
On the flip side, the Bucks have gone into lockdown mode defensively, giving up the fewest points in the paint (40.0) per game and the lowest opponent field goal percentage (43 percent) in April.
These clubs have both been limiting easy buckets of opponents, as Milwaukee has given up the second-fewest points off turnovers (13.3) and Atlanta the 10th-fewest (14.6) this month.
The Hawks managed just 105 and 108 points in their last two games without Young, and if he sits again it's hard to see them putting up a big number against the Bucks. A Giannis-less Milwaukee squad may also find scoring a little tougher against a team that isn't playing matador defense.
PREDICTION: Under 230 (-110)
Player prop pick
With all the injuries Atlanta has dealt with, it still scored an average of 127.6 points per game over its recent eight-game run. So who's stepped up on offense? Sharpshooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic.
He's playing a team-high 36.4 minutes per game during this run, averaging 21.8 ppg and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 51.2 percent from the floor and a ridiculous 53 percent from beyond the arc. He's led Atlanta in scoring in three of his last four games and will be leaned on against a Milwaukee team that's really preventing opponents from getting good looks inside.
Bogdanovic has scored under 21 points just twice in his last nine games, so a total of 21.5 points AND assists seems way too good for us to pass up.
PREDICTION: Bogdan Bogdanovic Over 21.5 points + assists (-120)
Bucks vs Hawks betting card
- Hawks +4.5 (-110)
- Under 230 (-110)
- Bogdan Bogdanovic Over 21.5 points + assists (-120)
Picks made on 4/15/2021 at 12:38 p.m. ET
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