Bucks-Hawks picks, NBA playoff betting odds: Lean on Atlanta to force Game 7, with or without Trae Young

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The story of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals was the players who were too injured to play. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Trae Young, De’Andre Hunter and Donte DiVincenzo all missed the game, but I don’t think it should be lost in Milwaukee’s win that the Atlanta Hawks had several other players known to be dealing with injuries whereas the rest of the Bucks roster appears more or less healthy. Bogdan Bogdanovic has been listed on the injury report all series with knee soreness. Clint Capela was questionable in Game 5 due to eye inflammation. Cam Reddish went down in February, and despite flashing his typical upside, has still only played 63 minutes since then. 

Injuries shouldn’t be viewed as binary. It’s not just a matter of who is in and who is out. Players operating at less than 100 percent can often be just as impactful. Capela gave Atlanta only 21 minutes in Game 5. Bogdanovic was held to single digits in scoring for six straight games, and even as his productivity has improved, he’s been almost entirely reliant on jump shooting over the past few games. Their limitations have an enormous effect on what their teams can do schematically. 

Ultimately, you should hold off on making bets until you have a read on how healthy Young and Antetokounmpo are. But if this series does indeed play out with both of them either out or meaningfully limited, remember that Milwaukee is far healthier on balance even if the superstars cancel each other out. With that in mind, let’s move on to Saturday’s top picks. 

All lines via William Hill Sportsbook

Featured Game | Atlanta Hawks vs. Milwaukee Bucks

  • The Bucks got a nearly perfect game out of their starters on Thursday. Brook Lopez probably isn’t going to shoot 77 percent again. Bobby Portis probably isn’t going to score 22 points again. Game 5 was the first game of the postseason in which both Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday topped 25 points. The Bucks certainly can win Game 6, but the odds of everything that went right for them at home going right for them again on the road don’t appear to be great. Considering how close this game was after Milwaukee’s opening flurry, I’d lean on the home team slightly in Game 6 before the Bucks ultimately take the series in Game 7. The pick: Hawks -2

  • No, Lopez probably isn’t going to score 33 points again. He’ll miss a few more shots. But his scoring would have to be cut more than in half from Game 5 for him to come in under this total. The Bucks simply invested too many possessions in him in Game 5 for that to happen. Even if he’s less efficient, there’s just no way Lopez is taking 18 shots and scoring fewer than 16 points on Saturday. The pick: Lopez over 15.5 points
  • Clint Capela played only 21 minutes in Game 5 and still came up with eight rebounds. He averaged over 14 in the regular season. Lopez has many virtues, but rebounding isn’t one of them. Without a healthy Antetokounmpo, Capela’s only obstacle to this total is his minutes total. Assuming his eye has recovered enough for him to go all-out in an elimination game, he should get to 11 rebounds comfortably. The pick: Capela over 10.5 rebounds

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