Milwaukee Bucks-Atlanta Hawks

Over/Under: 224

Spread: MIL -4.5

Eastern Conference Finals

Game 3

The Hawks looked completely outmatched last game and we have to be careful when evaluating players heading into this game. Notice the spread is a lot lower on this game than the last two and we’re coming off of a blowout. The Bucks shot over 52 percent from the floor en route to a 34-point victory. The Bucks smartened up a little and found more ways to utilize their height. Brook Lopez was hitting three’s and blocking shots and didn’t have a defender in sight. Bogdan Bogdanovic looks slow and the Hawks may have to make the decision to further limit his minutes so they can keep the pace up. The Bucks played a lot of prevent defense in the paint, shutting down the lanes and Clint Capela was powerless. The Hawks only shot 41.5 percent from the field and 25 percent from downtown. The Bucks look like they have figured out how to take good shots away from Trae Young. He’s rushing shots even from a few steps outside of the arc. The hope for the Hawks is that they are inspired enough by their home crowd. They can’t keep Giannis Antetokounmpo out of the paint. Team’s that have stronger offenses would be able to afford sacrificing a big man off the bench to get physical with Antetokounmpo, but the Hawks don’t have that luxury and need John Collins on the court to help expand it. 


*Bogdan Bogdanovic-Questionable

*De’Andre Hunter-Out

*Donte DiVincenzo-Out


Giannis Antetokounmpo- Two games, no answers for Antetokounmpo from the Hawks defense. He only played 29 minutes last game so fatigue shouldn’t be a factor. The Hawks can’t get too physical with Antetokounmpo because they can’t afford having John Collins and/or Clint Capela off the floor for an extended period of time in foul trouble. His rebounding should be back to double figures with more minutes expected on the court. Don’t get too cute and keep that Vegas spread handy because it’s very telling that tonight’s game could be more competitive. Antetokounmpo is also coming off of back-to-back multi-steal outings. Antetokounmpo continues to attack from the sides a lot instead of driving right from the top of the key to get the defenders to shift sideways allowing an open lane for the cutter. He doesn’t attack with full force every take because the Hawks have been smart at drawing charges and I’ve noticed that Antetokounmpo has picked up on a defender’s planted feet early and stops his dribble right outside of the paint and takes his first step around the planted defender to avoid contact. 

Trae Young- If the rest of the Hawks besides Young and Collins aren’t hitting shots, they might as well sacrifice their game in the paint to get Young better looks. The Hawks can try double screening him at the arc, but that will give the Bucks enough time to set up defensively and close down lanes. He’s rushing his shots and he has to because other teammates such as Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter are streaky. Bogdanovic is clearly hurt and Capela can’t create in the post. This is the long way of saying that unless the Hawks are down 20-plus most of this game like they were last game, Young makes or breaks this team and his minutes and shots are limitless in a competitive game. Young is capable of having a strong outing against the Bucks without hitting a whole bunch of three’s, but Young has to hit at least three to four three-pointers in order for the Hawks to have a shot at winning this game. The Bucks were able to force him to pass off a good amount, so tonight’s mission for Young should be to get as many high-percentage shots from distance as humanly possible. Young has also grabbed multiple steals in three of his last five outings.

Jrue Holiday- Middleton’s shooting is still a bit suspect to make him CPT and Holiday has the better match up and in a more competitive game, he would get 20 shots and that should be expected for tonight’s game. On transition, he’ll be driving the lane a lot and once Holiday gets a step inside, it’s been hard for the Hawks to regroup to keep him from getting to the basket. For the most part, Holiday has thrived even when shooting poorly from the arc. We can expect his minutes to be in the 40’s tonight and he’s also dished at least 7 dimes and grabbed steals in 4 of his last 5 contests. Holiday has even blocked shots in his last two games as well. He’s also scored 21 or more points in 3 of his last 4 and he’s shot at least 56 percent from the floor in his last 2 games. If you want to be different and not give Antetokounmpo or Young the CROWN/CPT (which is highly recommended), Holiday is next in line to take that thrown.


Khris Middleton- As encouraging as it is seeing Middleton shoot better from a percentage standpoint than he did in his previous two games, we all must remember that he took fewer shots because of the blowout. For the second time in three games Middleton hit two out of seven three-pointers. His ongoing steals production and assist-help he’s been providing makes him more appealing. Middleton has scored 15 points in both of his last 2 games. Expect Middleton to be back in the 22-26 shot range for tonight. He’s grabbed seven or boards in three of his last four games. If Middleton isn’t getting it done from the arc, he must be encouraged to drive the lane. That’s the key ingredient for the Bucks because the Hawks haven’t been able to keep them out of the lane. Middleton was driving successfully and should opt to do that rather than throw up brick after brick. He’s a good passer and if he draws the double on the drive, someone else would cut and be open right under the basket. Even P.J. Tucker can score from that area at times. While the shooting is still a concern, he’s been helpful enough in other areas to warrant not getting fully faded.

John Collins- Prior to last game, Collins had grabbed 10 or more boards in his previous 5 games. We haven’t been able to rely on Collins for dimes, blocks and steals for the most part, so all of that production must be threw his scoring and rebounding. As much as the Hawks need Collins to hit long-range shots, he, like Capela should be looking to cut to the basket as much as possible. There have been multiple games in the playoffs that Collins would have a free lunch in the lane and throw down thunderous dunks, but then he’d abandon the drive and would settle for jumpers. Unlike just about every other Hawks player besides Young, Collins has been reliable offensively, but the problem is that when he’s not hitting his three’s, they take the ball out of his hands. The Hawks should try feeding him multiple possessions until they start doubling him. Unfortunately Collins has take fewer than 10 shots in 3 of his last 4 games. Expect him to play close to 40 minutes tonight.

Clint Capela- Capela doesn’t have post moves. He has his jumps timed right and he has been golden when the Hawks push the ball often being a recipient of an ally-oop. After scoring just two points in 25 minutes, this might be the last game we can rely on Capela for because if he’s not going to block shots, which he has in only one game in his last five after nearly swatting away two per game in the regular-season, he needs to score to go along with strong rebounding. If he has another weak effort not being able to put the ball in the basket, we will have to fade him moving forward. Capela has grabbed 11 or more boards in 2 of his last 4 outings. The Hawks lack of consistent offense keeps Capela in play because besides Collins, none of the Hawks big men can really make an impact scoring the basketball in the paint. Gallinari mainly stays at the elbow and arc and the rest of the Hawks big men are very raw offensively. Capela remains in play for at least one more game and with more playing time, we can at least expect more rebounding. It’s the other categories that remain big question marks.

Brook Lopez- Lopez hit three three-pointers last game and he’s now scored 15 or more points in 3 of his last 5 outings. Lopez hasn’t been rebounding this series, but he continues to swat away shots. He’s blocked shots in each of his last four games. He’s also coming off of a three-steal outing. Expect Lopez’ minutes to rise tonight and he should take eight to 10 field goals this evening. The Bucks made a head-scratching decision to limit Lopez and Bobby Portis in the first game of the series, but then gave them more run, even though it was a blowout. Lopez still played more minutes last game than the first. When Antetokounmpo attacks the paint, certain players will frequently be left open at the arc and Lopez is one of those players. Expect him to take high-percentage shots. He’s shot 60 percent from the floor or better in 3 of his last 5 contests. 


Bobby Portis- Thinking the Bucks will utilize their size a bit more, Portis should see 17-20 minutes tonight and take 7-10 shots this evening. Portis will looks to take shots from beyond the arc, but he’s also given space by the Hawks defense a couple of steps inside the arc. He’s grabbed at least six boards in two of his last four games. Portis has also blocked shots in three of his last five games. Portis can provide more offense than P.J. Tucker and scored nearly 11 points per game this season. He’s even grabbed steals in two of his last four battles. Unlike the Hawks, the Bucks can afford to have Portis play with a certain amount of physicality to keep the Hawks big men out of position. It’s not a lock that he gets a full workload of minutes, but we know that he will at least get a small piece of the offensive pie and he did grab eight boards in the first game of the series.

P.J. Tucker- Don’t expect much scoring help, but Tucker has a safe floor when it comes to minutes and prior to last game’s blowout, Tucker played at least 33 minutes in his previous 4 games. Tucker has grabbed seven boards in both games this series. He’s actually produced three multi-steal games in his last five and he’s even blocked shots in two of his last four outings. He hasn’t received many shots this series at all and is used specifically as the ultimate bailout option. Tucker brings enforcer skills that bully the Hawks out of the paint and keep the lane clogged. He’s produced over 20 DraftKings points in 2 of his last 3 battles. With the minutes being there for him and this being the only game on the slate, throw that dart!