The Western Conference Finals have begun already, so now it’s time to shift the focus to the East. The Milwaukee Bucks will host the Atlanta Hawks for the right to go to the NBA Finals. Milwaukee hasn’t won an NBA championship since 1971 when Lew Alcindor was their top player. For the Hawks, you would have to go all the way back to 1958 when they were in St. Louis. Milwaukee and Atlanta were two of my top-5 favorites in the East after the trade deadline. Giannis have been amazing in this postseason and he stepped up more against Brooklyn. The Bucks won their series in seven games and the final game went into OT. The Hawks also finished off the 76ers in seven games as Kevin Huerter stepped up in the decisive game. Who will advance to the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks?
How Milwaukee Will Win?
Milwaukee enters this series with the home court advantage, which hasn’t meant much in these playoffs. The Bucks went on the road to beat the Nets as did the Hawks with the Sixers. For the Bucks to advance to the NBA Finals, the supporting cast of Giannis will need to step up. Khris Middleton has been lights out during this postseason run. The Bucks adding defensive help in the form of Jrue Holiday and P.J. Tucker will need to pay dividends. Milwaukee will try to focus on getting the ball out of Trae Young hands. If they go with that strategy, it could haunt them seeing guys like Huerter, Williams and others have balled out. Brook Lopez will be key in this series also because if he’s hitting outside shots, that takes Capela away. Can and will Milwaukee do enough to hold off this hot Atlanta team to advance?
How Atlanta Will Win?
Atlanta is the 5th seed in the East, which meant they had to win games in hostile environments to advance. Throughout the playoffs, the Hawks relied on Trae Young to deliver in big games. In Game 7 against the Sixers, Young struggled and had one of his worse shooting performances ever. Kevin Huerter, John Collins and Danilo Gallinari stepped up big time in the series finale. I’ve said before the season that this Atlanta team can compete against and beat anyone on any given night. They will need that kind of output from others like they did against Philly. They are hoping Bogdan Bogdanovic can be effective and maybe Cam Reddish could return. Onyeka Okongwu has given them valuable minutes and he will be needed for this series. Can the Hawks contain Middleton unlike they did Seth Curry in the last series?
Who Advances to the NBA Finals?
Milwaukee is the favorite coming into this series. The Bucks seem somewhat healthy as we enter the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals. If the Hawks can steal the first game in Milwaukee, that would be huge. Atlanta is confident they can win anywhere and they play better on the road in hostile environments. Giannis will be a man on a mission and the Hawks will have to check him as a team. When doing so, they can’t leave Brooke Lopez or Khris Middleton open. Milwaukee will have issues trying to check all the Hawks shooters also. In a tough series and one that should go about six games, I’m picking the Hawks to advance to the NBA Finals. Atlanta Win 4-2