All eyes will be on Game 6 of the 2021 Eastern Conference finals this Sunday, as the Phoenix Suns could finally determine which team they would face in the NBA Finals. Will the Hawks force a Game 7? Or, will the Bucks get the job done and move on to the last stage for the first time since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson led the franchise to the final round in 1974?
Catch this game live on Sunday, July 4, at 8:30 AM, Manila time
HOME TEAM: Atlanta Hawks (2-3, 1-1 at home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Trae Young (questionable)
- SG: Bogdan Bogdanovic
- SF: Kevin Huerter
- PF: John Collins
- C: Clint Capela
The Hawks might have to fight for survival on Saturday without Trae Young again. Young has missed the last two games because of a foot injury he sustained in Game 4. Perhaps another full day of rest could be all he needs to play again, but right now, the Hawks must prepare as though their team MVP isn’t going to see action in Game 5.
That is why it’s important for the Hawks to get contributions from the guys who have been getting a bump in minutes due to Young’s absence. Lou Williams has fared well ever since he got inserted into the starting unit in lieu of Young, scoring 21 and 17 in Games 4 and 5, respectively, to go along with a total of 13 assists.
Meanwhile, Kevin Huerter had a clunker in Game 5, scoring just eight points on 3-of-12 shooting. in 38 minutes. With his big minutes, Huerter will have to come up with a much more robust scoring production.
Sure, he had seven assists, but the Hawks aren’t paying him to be a table-setter. The patch-up trio of Williams, Huerter, and Bogdan Bogdanovic has to work in order for the Hawks to pull off a win, in the event that Young gets ruled out once more.
The Hawks are 18-3 ATS in their last 21 games as a home favorite.
ROAD TEAM: Milwaukee Bucks (3-2, 1-1 on the road)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Jrue Holiday
- SG: Khris Middleton
- SF: P.J. Tucker
- PF: Bobby Portis
- C: Brook Lopez
Giannis Antetokounmpo watched from the bench in Game 5 and saw his Bucks dismantle the Hawks in a truly dominating performance. If Milwaukee fans were worried about how the Bucks would fare without Giannis, they surely let out a huge collective sigh of relief over what they saw in Milwaukee’s 123-112 home win in Game 5.
Without Antetokounmpo, the Bucks still managed to score 66 points in the paint. Brook Lopez had his game of the playoffs, turning back the hands of time to his Brookly Nets days and scoring 33 points on 14-of-28 shooting from the floor. He made 26 points in the paint, while toying with Atlanta’s interior defense.
The Hawks are going to have problems with Lopez being Milwaukee’s primary option at the post while he’s surrounded by the likes of Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. Middleton and Holiday combined for 51 points, but the real surprise was Bobby Portis, who opened the eyes of many with 22 points in Game 5.
Portis was a perfect fit alongside Lopez, as he played great perimeter and post defense while being versatile enough to be a threat from almost anywhere on the floor.
The Bucks will march to Game 6 having covered the spread in four of their last five games.
Spread: The Hawks need a 100% Trae Young to combat the pressure and rigors of an elimination game. Game 6 is for the Bucks to lose even though they’re the road team. Take the Bucks to win and cover (+2.5).
Over/Under: There’s heightened pressure for both teams in this game, and the Bucks might play a bit more conservatively. Take the Under (216.0)