Even without Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo, who hyper-extended his knee, the Milwaukee Bucks are within one victory of winning the Eastern Conference and locking up a spot in the NBA Finals heading into Game 6 against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
The Milwaukee Bucks opted for a bigger lineup in Game 5 that dominated the short-handed Atlanta Hawks. For the second game in a row, the Hawks didn’t have their top scorer, Trae Young, in the lineup after he rolled his ankle and accidently collided with an official in Game 3. The Hawks won Game 4 without Young, who was officially out with a bone bruise, but they were unable to win in Game 5.
|Game 6: #3 Milwaukee Bucks (3-2) vs. #5 Atlanta Hawks (2-3)|
- Tip-off: 8:30 pm ET, Saturday
- Location: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
- Point Spread: ATL -2.5
- Total: 216.5 o/u
- Money Line: MIL +110 / ATL -130
- Series Line: ATL +350 / MIL -480
The series returns to Atlanta on Saturday night for Game 6, and the Hawks are seeking to tie the series and force a Game 7. The Hawks are -2.5 favorites at home, but they’re underdogs at +350 odds to win the series. The Bucks are -480 odds favorites to win the series and Eastern Conference crown.
The Phoenix Suns await the winner of the Bucks/Hawks and are the favorites to win the 2021 NBA championship at -175 odds. The Bucks, with a banged-up Antetokounmpo, are +130 odds to win the title. The Hawks are long shots at +1200 odds.
Beer City: The Bobby and Brook Show
Without Antetokounmpo, head coach Mike Budenholzer relied on a pair of veteran big men to pick up the slack. Brook Lopez scored a career-playoff high with 33 points. Bobby Portis added 22 points, which was also a career-best.
Lopez shot 14-for-18 from the floor and added seven rebounds. Portis hauled down eight rebounds and added three assists and three steals in a sensational performance. He had averaged just 10 ppg in this series prior to Game 5.
“It’s exciting, but it’s obviously not done,” said Lopez. “We need to bottle that energy and effort we had tonight and do it again in two days.”
“Knowing the situation we were in, one of the best players in the world went down on our team,” added Portis. “Guys stepped up and played their role.”
The Bucks have been plagued by slow starts in this series, and throughout the postseason. In Game 5, the Bucks were fired up from the tip off. They jumped out to a 30-10 lead and never looked back.
“It was one of the main priorities, just to be aggressive out of the gate, be the aggressor, be more aggressive than they were,” said Jrue Holiday. “We felt like those games in Atlanta, whether it was energy from the crowd, they swung and punched us in the mouth. We didn’t take any chances, and wanted to come out strong and hit first.”
The Bucks backcourt of Khris Middleton and Holiday combined for 51 points in a game in which four starters notched at least 22 points. The defensive-minded PJ Tucker scored just five points, but added 11 rebounds.
The Bucks listed Greek Freak as doubtful on the injury report for Game 6.
Hotlanta: Will Young play in Game 6?
With the Hawks facing an elimination game, there’s a good chance that Young will return to the lineup in Game 6 after missing the last two games. Head coach Nate McMillan said Young will be a game-time decision, who is listed on the Hawks injury report as questionable.
The Hawks gambled with a small-ball line up for most of the postseason, but their lack of size was a glaring liability in Game 5. Clint Capela, who was questionable for Game 5 with eye inflammation, totaled six points and eight rebounds in only 21 minutes of action.
“They were the more physical, more aggressive team from start to finish tonight,” said McMillan.
In a reversal of roles, the Hawks fell behind 10-2 at the start of the game. The Bucks opened a 20-point lead in the first quarter and the Hawks never recovered.
Bogdan Bogdanovic led the Hawks in scoring once again with 28 points. Danilo Gallinari added 19 points off the bench. Bogdanovic hit seven treys, but Lou Williams and Kevin Huerter struggled from the perimeter. Those two combined for a 3-for-11 clip from 3-point land.
“We didn’t match their intensity, their energy,” said Gallinari. “We definitely need to start the game better.”