The Milwaukee Bucks (34-20) look to make it three wins in a row when they take on the Atlanta Hawks (30-25) on TNT this Thursday night. The Hawks are 7-1 in their last eight games, but this should be as good of a test as any for the current No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Atlanta Hawks
Thursday, April 15, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at State Farm Arena
Milwaukee is a 6-point favorite at most sportsbooks. Milwaukee won the only meeting this season by a 129-115 final back on January 24. Trae Young missed that game for Atlanta, and he may not be available again on Thursday night due to a calf injury that has kept him out the last two games. Giannis Antetokounmpo has missed the last six games for Milwaukee and the Bucks are 5-4 without him this season. Which team gets the win without their best player?
Bucks: Another Rout?
Milwaukee has recently had two three-game losing streaks, but the Bucks have been dominant in their last two games without Giannis. They beat the Magic by 37 points and blew out the Timberwolves 130-105 on Wednesday night. Khris Middleton shot well in both games to lead the team without Antetokounmpo. Defensively, the Bucks held both opponents under 38% from the field.
Granted, Orlando and Minnesota have 31 combined wins this season, but the Bucks were hot from three, going 19-of-40 in both games. Milwaukee still ranks No. 2 in 3P% (39.3%) for the season and it is something that can become more of a weapon without its best player available to attack the basket. In April, the Bucks lead the NBA by making 46.9% of their pull-up three-point shot attempts according to NBA.com.
Despite missing Giannis, the fast-paced Bucks still lead the NBA in rebounds per game (49.3) in April. Milwaukee is 27-7 when winning the rebounding battle this season. Milwaukee is not getting a lot of blocks or steals lately, but the Bucks are allowing the second-fewest points in the paint per game this month (39.8). The Hawks average a league-low 6.2 fast break points per game in April.
On the season, Atlanta averages the most points on paint touches (24.3) per game. If the Bucks tempt the Hawks to shoot from outside the paint more, then Atlanta just may be fine with that based on recent success. Remember that when looking at the NBA lines.
Hawks: Lighting It Up
Atlanta has been just above average at shooting the three this season, but April has been remarkably successful for the Hawks so far. Atlanta is shooting a league-high 43.8% from three this month. Five of the team’s 11 best games from three have come in April.
According to NBA.com, the Hawks have the second-lowest FG% (44.3%) on shot attempts that came off drives to the basket this season. When a team plays Milwaukee, it can expect to have its shots contested. The Bucks lead the league in the highest rate of both two and three-point field goals contested. They are the only defense to contest over 60% of shots this season, doing so 62.4% of the time.
Atlanta is not an impressive defense (No. 23 in Defensive Rating), but it does rank No. 5 in opponent 3P% (34.7%). Over just the last eight games (7-1 record), the Hawks rank No. 7 in Offensive Rating and No. 10 in Defensive Rating. That is good, but the Bucks also rank in the top 10 in both categories over this time.
Sticking to defense, Atlanta has held seven of its last eight opponents under 48% shooting from the field. The only time it did not was the lone loss against Memphis when the Grizzlies shot 53.9% a week ago. The Hawks are 3-7 this season against the current top five offenses (Clippers, Nets, Jazz, Nuggets, and Bucks).
Both teams have been winning without their best player, but Trae Young’s playing status must be monitored before betting on this game. Atlanta has a real chance to win straight up if he plays. Not only has Atlanta been 7-1 SU in its last eight games, but it is also 7-1 ATS. Milwaukee is 11-17 ATS on the road, the third-worst record in the league.
I am going to trust Atlanta’s recent offensive success to continue to give the Hawks a fighting chance in this one and keep it closer than six points. I like the Hawks to cover for my Thursday night NBA picks.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.