Hawks vs. Bucks Game 1 Odds, Picks & Predictions: Our Best Bets for Wednesday’s NBA Playoffs (June 23)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks.
- The Eastern Conference finals tip-off Wednesday night and our NBA betting crew is looking at every angle in this series.
- Entering tonight, our experts are aligned on the spread and are making a pick for the series as well.
- Check out their analysis and bets for Game 1.
Despite all the heroics the Hawks have put on display this postseason, the Bucks are heavy favorites in Game 1 and the series. The Bucks, meanwhile, are the current title favorites and already took out the scariest team in the East.
With that as the backdrop, our NBA analysts are betting the spread in Game 1 and in the series ahead of the start of the Eastern Conference finals. Take a look at their bets and analysis below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Atlanta Hawks vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Raheem Palmer: Can we be honest for a second. This Atlanta Hawks playoff run feels like it has been fluke.
They played an offensively inept New York Knicks team in the first round and followed that up by beating the Philadelphia 76ers in seven-games in a series in which they had a -3.7 Net Rating. The Hawks series against the 76ers said more about the 76ers than the Hawks and this is the series to capitalize on that.
Although we have to throw out the regular season matchups between these two teams due to injuries that didn’t allow us to see these teams at full strength, this is a bad matchup for the Hawks.
For starters, defending Giannis Antetokounmpo will be a major issue for the Hawks after they allowed Joel Embiid to average 30.4 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists on a torn meniscus. Antetokounmpo dominated the Hawks in the regular season, averaging 24.3 points, 11 rebounds and 4.7 assists in their three games.
He’ll likely play more than 32.2 minutes a game so we can expect those numbers to go up. The absence of DeAndre Hunter looms large here as they don’t have someone to handle Khris middleton. Bogdan Bogdanovic may be capable, but he is dealing with a knee injury and is a game-time decision tonight.
The Bucks also have Jrue Holiday at point guard who can make Trae Young work on both ends of the floor. The Hawks don’t have many ways to hide Young given his defensive deficiencies. The best option might be P.J. Tucker, but you can expect the Bucks to dominate on the offensive glass in that scenario.
The Bucks had a rough series offensively against the Nets, scoring just 101.9 points per possession, but I’m expecting an offensive explosion similar to the Heat series where they put up an Offensive Rating of 117.2 for the series.
I’ll lay the points with the Bucks here. They should take control of this series from the door in matchup that shouldn’t last any longer than four or five games.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Joe Dellera: It’s wild that the Eastern Conference finals are just starting and the Suns are already up 2-0 in the West, but we head into Game 1 of tonight’s matchup between the Bucks and Hawks who both upset significant favorites in the Eastern Conference semis.
Both teams required seven games to complete their impressive upsets over the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers and now square off after two hard fought series. The Bucks took the regular season series 2-1 and will look to make short work of the Hawks to advance to the NBA Finals.
Milwaukee is a dominant force and they just took down the presumptive title favorites in the Nets. Although they’ve had a few offensive struggles, their defense has shown up against both the Nets and the Miami Heat and they have allowed just 105.0 points per 100 possessions on an allowed 51.2% eFG%, per Cleaning the Glass. They’ve clamped down on defense and both of these numbers are improvements over the regular season.
Atlanta has defended well, but they’ve played two teams in both the New York Knicks and the 76ers who were flawed. The Knicks were playing above their head and did not seem to have that extra gear in the playoffs and the 76ers blew multiple massive leads due to an inability to finish. The Hawks won’t find this against Milwaukee. There are no easy shots, and the Hawks’ 51.6% eFG% on offense is concerning.
The Bucks have the best Rebounding Percentage of the Playoffs, 53.8%, while Atlanta’s is fourth worst, 48.8%. There will not be as many extra opportunities for Atlanta if they cannot initially convert against this formidable Bucks’ defense.
Additionally, when you have multiple creators and perimeter scorers in Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Giannis Antetokounmpo the Hawks will be stretched thin on defense and the absence of De’Andre Hunter looms large in this series. It’s tough to envision any of Bogdanovic, Huerter, or Collins stopping the freight train that’s Antetokounmpo on the perimeter.
The Bucks are better defensively, on the glass, and have the best player in the series. I like the home team tonight, and even though these two teams are coming off of Game 7s, the Bucks have one extra day of rest which is critical after such a long series. I’ll take Milwaukee to cover the spread.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Brandon Anderson: What a fun ride it has been with these Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks entered the playoffs as mostly an afterthought. They were a PK in their first round series before quickly dispatching the Knicks in just five games. That made them even bigger underdogs against the 76ers, but Philadelphia is home watching now too.
Along the way, Atlanta has made a believer out of many fans with Trae Young shushing road crowds, John Collins putting the Process on a poster, and Kevin Huerter and his red hair lighting it up on the wing.
Now the Hawks are four wins away from the NBA Finals.
Maybe we should all take this moment to just appreciate the fun Hawks ride and remember how fondly we think of them right now, because I think the ride is about to come to a jarring and abrupt stop.
The Hawks are already down a key starter in De’Andre Hunter, who would have been a vital wing defender this series against Khris Middleton, and it sure looks like Bogdan Bogdanovic is hobbled too.
He was Atlanta’s best player over the final stretch of the season, and he was terrific in the first round before the injuries started to take hold. Atlanta is running out of bodies, and they’re about to face an opponent who can actually attack and punish some of their poor defenders like Young and Danilo Gallinari.
Who on Atlanta is going to defend Middleton? Who’s going to defend Giannis Antetokounmpo, Clint Capela? Who does Young defend? Jrue Holiday? Good luck with that. And on the other end, Holiday is set to give Young fits.
He’s not as big as Ben Simmons or Matisse Thybulle but he has the lateral quickness to give Trae a harder time than Philly or New York did. If Holiday can get into Young and eliminate some of those deep 3s and floaters in the lane, that cuts off the head of the attack on this team. If Holiday outplays Young in this series, that’s a wrap for Atlanta.
Atlanta’s offense relies heavily on drawing free throws and finding cheap easy buckets on the offensive glass, and I’m not sure they’ll find those advantages in this series. Milwaukee allowed the fewest free throws in the league this season, a Mike Budenholzer specialty, and the Bucks are big and terrific on the glass. The Bucks might end up having the best three players in this series.
Milwaukee has absolutely no excuse to lose this series, or really, for it to even be close. I’ll take the Bucks -2.5 in the series, which means Milwaukee has to win in four or five.
Sometimes after a long draining series like the Bucks just had, teams can come out a little flat, thinking the job is done against an underdog like the Hawks.
I think this goes the other way. The Bucks finally got the monkey of their back and I think they smell the finish line now. Atlanta won’t get in their way. I like the Bucks to start with a win tonight and make quick work of these Hawks.