LeBron James has been famously complaining about the way the NBA took such a short break before starting the new season, and has pointed to that as a reason for so many player injuries. He may or may not have a point, but the fact is, there have been injuries to superstars that have impacted several of the series that have been played on the road to the NBA Finals.
And now one of those series is the Eastern Conference finals, where the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks both stood a chance of going into Game 5 without their biggest star players. That not only affects the interest on the part of the public, it also affects the way BetOnline customers will have to handicap this matchup.
Trae Young was backpedaling in Game 3 and inadvertently stepped on an official's foot, injuring his own foot in the process. It was diagnosed as a bone cruise in his foot, and although he got some treatment on it, he was determined to be not ready to play just prior to tipping off for Game 4.
We should mention that these injuries can affect a game in either of two ways.And the concern for Atlanta involved whether Hawks were going to be able to pick up the scoring slack for someone who had a Usage rate of 41.1%, which is astronomical. Well, as it turns out, coach Nate McMillan designated Lou Williams - accustomed to coming off the bench to provide instant offense - as a starting guard, and Williams responded with 21 points to lead the Hawks to a runaway victory (110-88).
Now it is Giannis Antetokounmpo who has an injury. And so the Bucks will have to go without him as Game 5 of the series commences at 9 PM ET at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
In the NBA playoff odds posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, the Bucks are favored:
Milwaukee Bucks -2.5
Atlanta Hawks +2.5
Over 215 points -110
Under 215 points -110
What may have thrown the Bucks off a couple of nights ago was the fact that they did not have any advance notice to figure out how Atlanta was going to conduct its offense. And what they encountered was a more balanced team that registered 26 assists, reflective of a lot of ball movement. Young is listed as questionable for this game, but if he doesn't go, Milwaukee should at least have a better idea as to what to look for.
And one of those things to look is plenty of shooting from Bogdan Bogdanovic, who they tried to make a deal for in the off-season (but ran afoul of NBA rules), who helped Atlanta break things wide open in Tuesday's game with four triples in the third period. The Hawks shot 62% in the quarter.
Giannis has a hyperextended left knee, and although there isn't any structural damage reported, he is being held out. Of course, he is the guy who fills up a stat sheet. But one of the things that gave the Bucks an edge in this series, in the perception of many, was that they had more balance - i.e., they could look to more people for scoring punch. So we could see Khris Middleton taking more of the responsibility. He's had outbursts during the playoffs, including 38 points against both the Hawks and the Nets, and last year, as Giannis got hurt in Game 5 against the Miami Heat, he stepped in and scored 36 against the Miami Heat.
Young is listed as questionable for this game. But there won't be as many surprises for Milwaukee, which should come out stronger after being buried in Atlanta. We'll take the Bucks on the first quarter bet (-1.5) and the first half bet (-2).
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