They keep winning but the NBA betting odds keep underestimating them. The Atlanta Hawks, once again, pulled off an upset as they edged the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. But despite the win, they will enter Game 2 this Friday as a +290 underdog on the online sportsbook. Milwaukee is -350.
That’s not all. The win lowered Atlanta’s series odds but they’re still a +180 underdog to make it to the NBA Finals. But Milwaukee is not a stranger to adversity and will even this series, though it won’t be easy. Against Atlanta, nothing is.
Hawks: Legend of Atlanta
At this juncture, proclaiming Trae Young to be just as valuable as Luka Doncic is not a hot take anymore. Young may still be a turnstile on defense, but his offensive prowess is approaching legendary territory. Young scorched the Bucks for 48 points and 11 assists despite going just 4-of-13 from deep.
Trae Young’s 48 PTS tonight ties LeBron James and Kobe Bryant for the most points scored in a postseason game in NBA history before turning 23 years old.
LeBron James: 48 points on 05/31/2007
Kobe Bryant: 48 points on 05/13/2001 pic.twitter.com/ZeQcvAFZEn
NBA History (@NBAHistory) June 24, 2021
At just 22 years old, Young has taken over the playoffs and leads all active players in points (30.5) and assists (10.5). Atlanta is 20 points better offensively when Young is on the floor. But it wasn’t just him. He received plenty of help from forward John Collins (23 points and 15 boards) and center Clint Capela (19 rebounds).
Atlanta outrebounded Milwaukee and locked them down from deep. Even if the Hawks couldn’t find the mark from deep, they went 39-of-63 (61.9 percent) from two-point range. The Bucks had no answers for the Young-Collins attack.
Bucks: This is It
Milwaukee was riding high after taking out the NBA title favorites Brooklyn. Now it’s shocked back to reality thanks to Game 1’s upset loss. The Bucks go back to the drawing board to continue figuring out how to stop Young while controlling the boards.
Capela and Collins ate up Milwaukee as both combined for 34 boards with nine of them on the offensive end. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday combined for 67 points and shot 28-of-50. But forward Khris Middleton had another bad game shooting just 6-of-23 and missing all nine of his three-point attempts.
This is it for Milwaukee. This team can hardly afford to go down 0-2 the head to Atlanta. Middleton will have to play well. He is their X-Factor. It’s only Game 2, but this might as well be Game 7 of the NBA Finals for everyone.
Pick: Fade Atlanta at Own Risk
At this point, betting against the Atlanta Hawks seems foolhardy. This team has proven over and over it is resilient on both ends of the floor while Young is a superstar that can take over games. Still, the desperate Milwaukee Bucks could be too much for them.
Middleton should have a better game. The Bucks are 7-0 when Middleton shoots at least 43 percent but only 1-4 when he doesn’t. And despite his struggles, he’s still putting up 22.6 points, 7.8 boards, and 4.3 assists. As the team’s second-best scorer, he’ll need to step up.
Still, Atlanta has come through as the underdog so many times. It has covered seven of its last 10 games with five of those coming on the road. While Milwaukee should get this done, it will come down to the wire as it did in Game 1.
Pick: Atlanta Hawks +7½
Bonus Pick: All the Way
Milwaukee opened this series as a -470 favorite to beat Atlanta but that looks anything but a solid bet now. Atlanta may or may not pull off this upset, but a more likely scenario is that this series goes all seven games. Both of these teams are persistent and coached well. Buckle up for another thrilling series.