The Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks clash in the Eastern Conference finals after both won seven-game sets as series underdogs in Round 2. But while those respective feats are impressive, it would seem the Bucks bouncing of the Brooklyn Nets has won over the bookies.
Milwaukee is a 7.5-point home NBA betting favorite for Game 1 Wednesday, coming off a thrilling overtime victory against Brooklyn this past weekend, and is also a near 5/1 fave (-480) on the series price facing Atlanta (+370).
Here are our free NBA picks and predictions for Hawks vs. Bucks on June 23.
Hawks vs Bucks game info
• Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
• Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2021
• Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
• TV: TNT
Hawks vs Bucks 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 opened -7.5 and stretched out to -9 briefly, then backed up to -8.5, where the line stands at 5:15 p.m. ET. Ticket count and money are both in the 2/1 range on the Bucks. And Milwaukee is seeing moneyline play as well. “Hawks outright would be the best decision of the night,” TwinSpires trading analyst Zachary Lucas said. The total is down to 225.5 from a 227 opener, with the Under landing 72 percent of tickets/60 percent of cash.Check out the full line movement for this game
Hawks vs Bucks series odds
Hawks vs Bucks betting preview
Hawks: De’Andre Hunter F (Out), Bogdan Bogdanovic G (Probable), Cam Reddish F (Questionable).
Bucks: Donte DiVincenzo G (Out), Jordan Nwora F (Questionable).
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Betting trend to know
The Under is 6-1 in Hawks' last seven games as road underdogs. Find more NBA betting trends for Hawks vs. Bucks.
Against the spread (ATS) pick
What more do you want from the Atlanta Hawks? This team has taken down the top two defenses in the Eastern Conference, refused to pack it in even when down big, and has the best scoring depth of any of the four remaining playoff teams (see: Huerter, Kevin).
This Hawks squad may have been a little green entering the postseason but after taking over Madison Square Garden in Round 1 and maturing at an “M. Night Shyamalan” pace in Round 2, no longer can we count inexperience as a weakness for Nate McMillan’s team.
In fact, after what McMillan has done with this group since taking over the head coaching job in March — going 35-15 SU and 31-18-1 ATS — he holds a decisive edge over his Bucks counterpart Mike Budenholzer, who will likely be job shopping this summer if the series goes sideways.
Milwaukee has played well on defense in the postseason — much better than its efforts on that end in the regular season. The Bucks boasted a defensive rating of 107.3 versus Brooklyn, but how much of that was shutdown defense... and how much stemmed from the Nets’ slew of big-name injuries?
Atlanta is a handful on the offensive end. A nasty rash of injuries plagued the team in the second half of the schedule but the Hawks are mostly healthy now and this rotation goes deeper than a David Fincher flick. The Hawks finished the year with nine players averaging more than 11 points per game and that’s translated to the postseason, as evidenced by their win over Philadelphia in Game 7 Sunday.
Superstar Trae Young had an off night, firing just 5 for 23 from the field (2 for 11 from distance) for 21 points. A dud from your best player would sink most teams (Ben Simmons, are you out there?) but Atlanta has more reserve power than a Costco pack of D batteries. Huerter’s herculean effort, as well as solid contributions from Clint Capela, John Collins, and Danilo Gallinari, not only helped Young avoid becoming a nasty internet meme but also overcame a hobbled Bogdan Bogdanovic, who went 2 for 8 for just four points due to a sore knee.
The Hawks have shown up on the road in series openers so far this postseason, but not without drama. Atlanta took Game 1 versus New York on a Young buzzer-beater and held off a second-half surge from the Sixers to steal Game 1 in Philly.
With plenty of points on the table in Milwaukee on Wednesday, how can you not like the odds on this dangerous and fully-grown underdog?
PREDICTION: Atlanta +7.5 (-110)
The Bucks’ rotation has gotten shorter and shorter as the postseason has progressed. Budenholzer barely dug into his bench versus the Nets and went just three deep down the pine in Game 7, with the starters logging an average of 37.3 minutes per game in that grueling conference semi.
There is a bit of a buffer between Saturday’s overtime win and Wednesday’s series tipoff, but Milwaukee is no spring chicken with an average age of 27.7 years — fifth-oldest in the NBA. Starters Jrue Holiday (31), Brook Lopez (33), P.J. Tucker (36) and Khris Middleton (the baby of the bunch at 29) are all in the backends of their careers and the postseason grind, on the back of a compressed season, doesn’t leave much tread on the tires.
The Hawks, on the other hand, sit with a spry average age of 25.6 years old and can keep throwing fresh young legs at Milwaukee on both ends of the floor. Atlanta’s bench players averaged more than 14 minutes of action versus the 76ers and allow McMillan to test different defensive combinations, which turned the tide in that Round 2 series.
Atlanta allowed scores of 124, 118, and 127 before locking it down on defense in the final four contests, owning a defensive rating of 102.8 in that span and giving up an average of just 101.5 points — staying Under the total in each of those outings.
It shouldn’t be too tough to smother a Milwaukee attack that could be dragging its toes in Game 1. This total opened 228.5 and has already dipped to 226.5, with early sharp play on the Under.
PREDICTION: Under 226.5 (-110)
Player prop pick
It may seem like we’re blindly jumping on the Huerter heater after his 27-point effort to close out the Sixers, but the Hawks’ crimson-haired third-year shooting guard out of Maryland has had success against Milwaukee this season.
Huerter posted point totals of 20 and 16 in his last two matchups with the Bucks (shot a combined for 16 for 25) and it's not like he's coming out of nowhere, after averaging more than 13 points per game in the conference semifinals. He closed the regular season scoring just below 12 points per game and will draw Middleton and Pat Connaughton in terms of defensive matchups, two guys he had success against in the regular season.
Huerter has also been active on the glass in the playoffs, totaling 18 rebounds in the final two games versus Philadelphia and pulling down more than four a night in the postseason. Heavy legs and a lack of energy from the Bucks’ starters will give the 6-foot-7 guard an edge on the glass in Game 1.
PREDICTION: Kevin Huerter points + rebounds Over 17.5 (-120)
Hawks vs Bucks betting card
- Atlanta +7.5 (-110)
- Under 226.5 (-110)
- Kevin Huerter points + rebounds Over 17.5 (-120)
Picks made on 6/21/2021 at 12:42 p.m. ET
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