Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Final tips at 8:45 p.m., and we have a few guaranteed bets for NBA fans. When I traveled through Athens, Greece last month, I learned that the Greeks thrive in everyday life by embracing just three simple components: Lamb, tourism, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
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*Anthony Jaskulski is the National Hockey Now sports betting analyst.
The city of Milwaukee can relate to one of these workings. And while lamb stands no ground against cheese in Wisconsin, and tourism is…well, let’s just say Milwaukee is a fine city, the Milwaukee Bucks and its fans are dependent on Antetokounmpo like a car is to a drivetrain.
The “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo will miss tonight’s Eastern Conference Finals matchup vs. the Atlanta Hawks due to a knee injury he sustained in the early goings of the second half in Tuesday night’s 110-88 beatdown the Hawks handed the Bucks.
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Bucks vs. Hawks Betting Pick (July 1, 2021)
After opening as high as 4.5 points, the Milwaukee Bucks sit steady now as a 3-point favorite vs. the short-handed Atlanta Hawks at BetMGM, FanDuel, and DraftKings.
The Hawks also have a significant question mark in the likes of guard Trae Young, the oil and lifeblood to the Atlanta Hawks’ machine, who missed Tuesday night’s game with a foot injury suffered after tripping over an official in game 4.
Even without Young, the Atlanta Hawks brought chaos and destruction to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, rattling off a 36-point third quarter while holding the Bucks’ listless offense to just 38% from the field.
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The news of Antetokounmpo – and the better probability that Young will suit up for the Hawk tonight – has not swayed the public in betting the home team, as several books, including BetMGM, show the Milwaukee Bucks as a slight 58% lean for bettors tonight.
WHO DO THE BUCKS TURN TO?
Milwaukee will be losing 30% of its scoring tonight. That leaves an array of hot and cold inconsistencies as options to make up that offensive ground for the Bucks to have a chance to win this game.
One of those options is Kris Middleton. The guard’s Jekyll and Hyde playoff performance encapsulated perfectly in the last two games when Middleton dropped 38 in the Bucks’ game 4 win at Atlanta and followed up with just 16 points in Thursday’s humiliating loss.
Middleton needs to create space, and assists can be that door wedge. But who will the Milwaukee Bucks’ small forward pass to? The Bucks cannot have Jrue Holiday being their only shining beacon of hope in an otherwise dark, depleted offensive game. Brook Lopez and PJ Tucker need to combine with bench players Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton to give this team a chance.
THE NBA BETS WE LIKE, Bucks vs. Hawks (July 1, 2021)
The Atlanta Hawks just taste, smell, and look better right now.
Even without Trae Young on Thursday, they still pieced together an offensive clinic with the likes of Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovich, and Lou Williams keeping the Milwaukee Bucks’ defense on their toes from inside the paint to long-range.
With the likely probability that Trae Young will give it a go tonight, there’s just too much firepower on the floor for a feisty Atlanta Hawks team that doesn’t have to deal with the paint presence of Antetokounmpo on either end of the floor.
Atlanta Hawks +3.
Bryn Forbes to score 10+ points (+106 – FanDuel)
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The bench shooting guard for Milwaukee will have to play more minutes tonight. Getting 14 minutes – a series high – on Thursday, Forbes only had six points on 2 of 6 shooting. His point total high against the Atlanta Hawks was eight points in 13 minutes in game 3. But expect Forbes to see more minutes and receive more open looks tonight without the service of Antetokounmpo. Expecting a closer game tonight, Forbes will get his time to make gains on the offensive end.