- The Atlanta Hawks seek a 2-0 lead in the East Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks
- Trae Young scored an NBA-record 48 points in a Conference Finals debut
- Read below for the latest odds, projected lineups and betting preview
We’re at the point where we need to seriously consider the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA Finals.
For the Milwaukee Bucks, their hopes of rebounding in Game 2 and ultimately claiming the Eastern Conference Finals will depend on how they handle Trae Young.
Young, the 22-year-old dynamo, refused to let his team drop the opener, striking first with a 116-113 win. And yet, oddsmakers lengthened Atlanta’s odds in Game 2, with the Bucks now 8-point favorites to get that split at home.
Hawks vs Bucks Game 2 Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total Points|
|Atlanta Hawks||+8 (-108)||+280||Over 226 (-110)|
|Milwaukee Bucks||-8 (-112)||-350||Under 226 (-110)|
Odds as of June 24. Tip-off is Friday at 8:30pm ET
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Already down De’Andre Hunter, the Hawks have listed wing Bogdan Bogdanovic as questionable for Game 2 as he battles a knee injury. Bogdanovic was clearly hobbled and lacked any explosiveness to get past his defender in Game 1. He logged 27+ minutes, and just five in the final frame. If he can’t go, Danilo Gallinari will likely take his spot in the starting lineup.
Hawks vs Bucks Projected Lineups
|Trae Young||PG||Jrue Holiday|
|Kevin Huerter||SG||Khris Middleton|
|Danilo Gallinari||SF||Giannis Antetokounmpo|
|John Collins||PF||PJ Tucker|
|Clint Capela||C||Brook Lopez|
All About Ice Trae
Has any player ever been as ready for primetime as the Hawks’ star guard? Trae Young just made history in Game 1, scoring the most points by any player in their debut in a Conference Finals. His final line was staggering: 17-for-34 from the field, 48 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.
He also did it in style. His highlight pack was on fire: a behind-the-back dish to Kevin Huerter for three, the disrespectful shimmy when left wide open from the three-point line (more on that below) and his dazzling off-the-backboard ‘oop to John Collins for the flush.
"Young had 48 points but also 7 rebounds and 11 assists. He's aggressive and dominates the scoreboard but he keeps his teammates involved, his team involved." @AdamSchein on the "sizzle" and "swagger" of Trae Young. pic.twitter.com/MltTEvFGhM
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) June 24, 2021
Simply put, Young is the best player standing in the East, and he’s showing he can get the Hawks good looks each time down the floor.
Atlanta also stood up to the bigger Bucks — who were the top rebounding team in the playoffs, outrebounding them 51-45. While they held them to 8-for-23 from three, Milwaukee did pound the paint for 70 points. That’s something the Hawks will need to clean up some going forward.
TRAE YOUNG OFF THE GLASS TO JOHN COLLINS IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS 🤯🤯🤯
— Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) June 24, 2021
Collins was a monster for the Hawks. After a quiet 6-point, 6-rebound first half, he erupted for 17 points and nine boards in the second half, including a crisp 8-for-9 from the field. Clint Capela also had 12 points and 19 boards, picking up the key go-ahead basket late in the fourth, after a clutch offensive board.
Deer in Headlights
Watching the Bucks play is about as frustrating as it can get. There’s a reason they started the Final Four as the favorites to win the NBA title — they’re that talented. But coach Mike Budenholzer refused to adjust to Atlanta’s high pick-and-roll with Young orchestrating. The Bucks like to drop their big man deep into the paint, which is death. They left Young with every option, which led to that wrecking-ball line.
Trae Young really did this last night on his way to 48 PTS & 11 AST!
Teammates & the TNT crew's reactions to the Shimmy…pic.twitter.com/WWfezyX9FH
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 24, 2021
Offensively, Milwaukee still stays true to their sets, and that apparently doesn’t involve seeking out Young in mismatches (think LeBron mercilessly finding Steph Curry and getting the switch to go to work), or even a hobbled Bogdanovic.
If they can tighten up defensively, it will likely mean going small, with Giannis seeing plenty of time at the five. The upside? When they abandoned Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis late in the third and almost all of the fourth, Milwaukee held Young to 1-of-9 from the floor, with two turnovers and three assists.
JRUE. HOLIDAY. THROWDOWN. pic.twitter.com/s9UbP3XVWT
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) June 24, 2021
The downside? They gave up four offensive rebounds, including the Capela one late, leading to the go-ahead bucket. Still, they were just a Khris Middleton three from forcing OT. Odd they went to Middleton, who finished 6-for-23 from the field for 15 points, while Jrue Holiday was the hot perimeter hand, going 14-for-25 from the field for 33 points and 10 assists.
What’s the Best Bet?
Atlanta’s now won three straight Game 1’s in these playoffs. But they’ve followed those up with Game 2 losses to the Knicks (101-92) and 76ers (118-102). After sweeping the Heat, Milwaukee followed up a Game 1 loss to the Nets with a bigger Game 2 demolition loss to Brooklyn.
The Hawks remain the kings of Game 1s.
Atlanta is just the 4th team in NBA history to win Game 1 on the road in three series within a postseason. They take a 1-0 series lead over Milwaukee, defeating the Bucks 116-113 and outlasting an outstanding performance from Jrue Holiday.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) June 24, 2021
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been the constant, and I expect him to be around the 34-point, 12-rebound, 9-dime clip he showed in Game 1. But their shot creators remain iffy, with Middleton and Holiday taking turns with their struggles in these playoffs.
It’s that lack of consistent shot creation that has me leaning to Young, the Hawks and all those points. Though I think Milwaukee lands the plane in rough fashion to even up this series before heading back to the A.
- Pick: Bucks ML (-350) and Hawks +8 (-110)