Both teams are coming off grueling seven-game series in the previous round. The Bucks were able to outlast the Nets in an instant classic. Much of the attention in that series was focused on the Nets, who got an all-time performance from Kevin Durant and had to deal with injuries to James Harden and Kyrie Irving. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,400) delivered some huge performances, as well, and Khris Middleton ($10,000) and Jrue Holiday ($9,400) were able to hit some big shots down the stretch in Game 7.
The Hawks pulled off a sizable upset of the 76ers. Trae Young ($11,600) has blossomed into a star this postseason, and he has proven that he’s not afraid of the biggest stages. While certain players shrink in those moments — [cough] Ben Simmons [cough] — Young has risen to the occasion.
Unfortunately, the Hawks enter this series at less than full-strength. Bogdan Bogdanovic ($6,400; knee) was hobbled towards the end of that series vs. the 76ers, and he’s listed as questionable for Game 1. De’Andre Hunter has already been shut down for the rest of the season, so Bogdanovic being out or limited would be a big blow. Cam Reddish ($5,400; Achilles) has been upgraded to questionable after being out of the lineup since February, but it seems likely that he’ll be heavily restricted if he is able to play.
Overall, the Bucks are listed as -480 favorites to win the series on DraftKings Sportsbook, and they’re eight-point favorites in Game 1.
DraftKings is offering up a Showdown slate for this contest, so let’s break down some of the top options to consider for your lineups.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
Giannis Antetokounmpo ($18,600 CP) – You could make the argument that Giannis is the only true fantasy stud in this series. He’s averaged 1.67 DKFP per minute this season, and he’s seen a nice spike in playing time during the postseason. He’s played at least 41.1 minutes in four of his past five games, including more than 50 minutes in the Bucks’ Game 7 overtime victory. He might not see that much playing time to start the series vs. the Hawks, but he should still see around 38-40 minutes if this game is competitive.
Giannis should have the advantage over whoever is guarding him in this series. Hunter would’ve been the most logical choice — he did an outstanding job on Julius Randle in the first round — but he’s obviously unavailable. John Collins ($8,400) will likely get the first crack at him, but Giannis shot 7-for-8 from the field with Collins as his primary defender during the regular season.
Jrue Holiday ($14,100 CP) – I’m limiting my Captain exposure to Giannis and Giannis only on today’s slate. That said, Holiday would be my second choice if you can’t use Giannis for some reason. He couldn’t buy a bucket for most of his series vs. the Nets, but he’s still provided solid fantasy value during the playoffs. He’s ultimately returned value in nine of his past 11 games.
Holiday also has a solid individual matchup. Young is one of the worst defensive point guards in the league, and Holiday shot 75% with Young as his primary defender in their lone regular-season matchup.
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Trae Young ($11,600) – Young has scored at least 56.75 DKFP in three of his past four games, and he did that in a brutal matchup vs. the 76ers. Philly ranked first in the league in defensive efficiency, and they have a pair of elite perimeter defenders in Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle. He’ll have his hands full once again vs. Holiday, but Young has proved that he’s essentially matchup proof.
Brook Lopez ($6,800) – Lopez stands out as one of the best pure values at his price. He’s been a solid contributor recently, averaging 0.93 DKFP per minute over the past month, and his playing time is up during the postseason. He returned value in five of seven games vs. the Nets — including a 42.0 DKFP performance in Game 7 — and I like his chances to pay off his salary again on Wednesday.
Pat Connaughton ($2,200) – Connaughton was basically the only reserve player that the Bucks trusted in the latter stages of their series vs. the Nets. They could play some other players off the bench in this series — Bryn Forbes ($3,200) and Bobby Portis ($2,400) stand out as possible options – but Connaughton should still see a solid handful of minutes. He’s massively underpriced.
Kevin Huerter ($7,200) – When we last saw Huerter, he was busy abusing Seth Curry in Game 6 and Game 7. He poured in at least 42.75 DKFP in both contests, and he displayed a nice variety of shot-making that I frankly didn’t know he possessed. Unfortunately, there will be no whipping boy for Huerter to beat up on in this series, which makes him a lot less appealing. His salary has also increased significantly after two-straight big games, so he’s an easy fade on today’s slate.
The Hawks aren’t getting a lot of love on DraftKings Sportsbook, and it’s easy to see why. They have no real answer for Giannis, and I’m not sure how the Hawks can keep up offensively. Huerter was able to bail them out in Game 7 vs. the 76ers, but they won’t have that luxury vs. the Bucks. Young is going to have to put forth a herculean effort, and I’m just not sure he can do it in four out of seven games.
I think the Bucks should get off to a good start in this series, and I’m expecting a more well-rounded performance. They should be able to get more players involved vs. the Hawks after Giannis had to do a lot of heavy lifting vs. the Nets.
Final Score: Bucks 116, Hawks 102
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