The Atlanta Hawks are pesky. Trae Young put on an offensive clinic with playoff career-high 48 points and the Hawks escaped Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a 116-113 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum. Giannis Antetokounmpo came one assist away from getting a triple-double with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists. Jrue Holiday had a great game as well with 33 points and 10 assists for Milwaukee, which is now behind in the Conference Finals 1-0.
The Hawks were pretty big underdogs entering this game. Atlanta was getting 8.5 points on the road, though most of the action on DraftKings Sportsbook was on Hawks +8.5, while the majority of the money was going to Milwaukee at -400 (there was also an odds boost on Bucks moneyline to +100). The Over/Under was set at 225.5 before game time, which the over hit pretty easily toward the end of the game. The line on this game had moved in favor of the Bucks from 7 points to 8.5 since opening.
This is the third straight series the Hawks have stolen Game 1 on the road. Atlanta has been viewed as an underdog for most of the playoffs, not counting the first round vs. the New York Knicks. It’s beginning to look a lot like Trae Young’s playoff run and the Bucks made some major missteps again down the stretch. Milwaukee’s depth is becoming an issue. We saw Pat Connaughton play 29 points off the bench and outside of some decent minutes early on from Bobby Portis, no one else did much outside of the Bucks’ Big 3.
Oh wait, Khris Middleton was bad again. He went 6-of-23 from the floor with 15 points and was 0-for-9 (!) from 30-point range. Middleton is going to have to step up for the Bucks to advance in this series. Jrue stepped up and Giannis was Giannis. Middleton has always been the inconsistent guy for the Bucks in the past few playoffs.
Young didn’t do it all by his lonesome. John Collins had a great game, scoring 23 points with 15 boards. Clint Capela did a great job down low cleaning the glass, ripping down 19 rebounds. The Hawks won the rebounding game over Giannis. You could argue that was one of the big differences in the game swinging toward the Hawks’ favor late in the game. Collins and Capela down low are going to be an issue, especially when the Bucks lack bigs behind Giannis (Brook Lopez and Portis, maybe PJ Tucker).
The Bucks will look to tie the series on Friday night at 8:30 p.m. ET in Game 2 on TNT.