The Milwaukee Bucks try to make a stand without Giannis Antetokounmpo in Thursday’s Game 5 clash with the Atlanta Hawks. It has been an Eastern Conference playoff series riddled with major injuries. After Trae Young went down in Game 4, the Bucks lost Antetokounmpo to an ugly knee injury on Tuesday night. With things tied at two apiece, which team will prove to be the best at persevering through adversity?
Hawks not out of the injury woods yetGiannis Antetokounmpo going down in Game 4 might have looked like a game-changer in the series, but the truth remains that the Hawks are still dealing with some injuries themselves. Trae Young remains questionable for Thursday night’s game with a bone bruise in his foot, and center Clint Capela is dealing with right eye inflammation.
There’s a possibility both could miss Game 5.
With that said, Antetokounmpo not being out there changes things drastically. There’s no longer the need to commit bodies to stopping the human freight train from forcing his way to the basket. It’ll open up opportunities for the Hawks to be more successful defensively with less clean looks for Milwaukee’s shooters.
Perhaps being called a human magnet would better suit a player like Antetokounmpo, who gets guys open looks just by the mere attention he draws at the basket.
The Hawks have to continue being scrappy on the defensive end of the floor, and it needs to start early to sap the Bucks of their confidence. You can rest assured the Fiserv Forum will be a madhouse with fans trying to push the Bucks to the finish line. This is the game where the Hawks need to drop the hammer to ensure there’s no hope if Antetokounmpo does miraculously find his way back in this series.
“Lemon Pepper” Lou Williams stepped up in a big way for Young by scoring a team-high 21 points. He’s capable of consistently being that go-to guard considering he’s a three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year award winner.
The Hawks will need more of it steal Game 5 on the road.
Antetokounmpo injury devastating for the BucksThe good news is there’s no structural damage to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s knee. However, the bad news is the hyperextension in itself potentially keeping him sidelined for an extensive time. It’s hard to envision him bouncing back for this series and looking anywhere close to 100 percent.
The Bucks have to make up in their minds that he isn’t coming back.
Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday landed big contracts for moments like this. They have to step up and deliver for the Bucks at home on Thursday night. The same Middleton that randomly showed up for a 38-point performance in Game 3 needs to find his way onto the court again for this game as well.
Make no mistake, the Hawks are a great basketball team, but they also aren’t a loaded up Brooklyn Nets team with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden on the floor, either. This is a winnable game for the Bucks even without Antetokounmpo.
Clint Capela possibly being out opens up an opportunity for Middleton and Brook Lopez to win on the boards. They just need to show they want it more.
The Bucks have a deep roster, and they’re still the best two-way team left in the playoffs. They are ranked sixth in defensive efficiency with the league’s No. 1-ranked scoring offense as well.
All of that didn’t just come from one player.
- Bucks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Bucks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 1 days’ rest.
- Bucks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games against a team with a winning straight up record.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Hawks are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 Conference Finals games.
- Hawks are 2-5 ATS in the last 7 head-to-head meetings.