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This one truly is a pick ’em. Bucks. Hawks. Eastern Confererence finals Game 5. In Milwaukee. Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is out with a knee injury. Hawks star Trae Young and his foot are TBD. The series is tied at 2-all.
You would think the edge would go to the Bucks simply because of home-court advantage, but each team has won a game on the other’s court. So how do you know which way to go?
Well, all we really have to go on is that the Bucks have played very well every other game so far in the playoffs. And if not “very well,” at least well enough to win.
Of course, Antetokounmpo was on the court for those games. Thursday night, he won’t be. It sounds like he might not appear again this postseason. An MRI revealed no structural damage to his knee, which he injured in the Bucks’ Game 4 loss, but it sounds like the season is over for the former back-to-back NBA MVP.
So the Bucks will have to rely on Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez and the rest. Without Antetokounmpo, this has the feel of a .500 team. Not that things are any better for the Hawks without Young.
Anyway, the Bucks are a -2.5. Take them — even without Antetokounmpo and even if Young plays. When it’s a toss-up, in the NBA, you side with the home team. As for the over-under of 215, go ahead and take the under. The Bucks are always better defensively at home, and their best chance to win without their star is to keep the score low.