Atlanta Hawks (53-29 SU, 48-34 ATS) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (46-36 SU, 53-28-1 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Friday, April 30, 2010, Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisc. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Hawks -2/Bucks +2
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The Atlanta Hawks were in control of their first round playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Hawks had a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series after two double-digit home victories. But the Bucks turned it around with an easy win at home in Game 3, and a pair of tight victories at home in Game 4 and on the road in Game 5. Now, the Bucks have a chance to pull off the upset and close out the series with a victory in Milwaukee in Game 6 on Friday night, as the Bucks lead the series, 3-2.
After consecutive victories for the Bucks to tie the series up at 2-2, the Hawks still had home-court advantage and were going home for Game 5 and a chance to keep that home-court advantage and control of the series. In Game 5 in Atlanta, the Hawks had a three-point lead at the half and an eight-point lead after the third quarter. They led by 13 at one point in the fourth quarter and 82-73 with 4:10 remaining, but the Bucks turned it around and went on a 14-0 run, sparked by tough defense, to win the game, 91-87.
Brandon Jennings led the way for the Bucks with 25 points. He has scored a total of 48 points in the last two games. John Salmons scored 19 points and added six rebounds and five assists. Salmons has scored at least 16 points in every game in the series and is averaging 20 points per game. Luke Ridnour had a big game off the bench for the Bucks with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting. The Bucks have won both games in this series when Ridnour has scored in double figures.
The Hawks took advantage of the Bucks’ weak big men, as Al Horford led the Hawks in scoring with 25 points and Marvin Williams scored 22 points. Horford also grabbed 11 rebounds. Joe Johnson had a nice all-around game with 13 points, six rebounds and six assists, but Mike Bibby only scored two points and Jamal Crawford had 11 points on 4-of-18 shooting from the field. Johnson, Bibby and Crawford combined to shoot 11-for-39 from the field and 1-for-9 from 3-point range in the loss. The Hawks have lost both games in which Bibby failed to reach double figures in scoring. Game 5 was the first game in which Johnson didn’t score at least 22 points. Josh Smith only had seven points, nine rebounds and four assists. He only shot eight field goal attempts. It’s the second game in the series that Smith has only scored seven points, both of which were losses. The Hawks need a lot more from Johnson and Smith in terms of scoring if they are going to have a chance to win Game 6.
In Game 5, the Bucks shot 41 percent from the field and 8-for-19 from 3-point range. The Hawks shot 43 percent from the field and 2-for-11 on 3-pointers. The two teams were even in rebounding, an accomplishment for a Bucks team that is clearly out-manned in the frontcourt against the Hawks, and the Bucks committed two fewer turnovers than the Hawks. The Bucks also attempted 12 more free throws than the Hawks and made 10 more free throws than them.
The Hawks have a huge advantage down low with Horford and Smith going against guys like Kurt Thomas, Dan Gadzuric and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. But the Bucks have a quickness advantage in the backcourt with Jennings, Ridnour and Salmons going against Bibby and Johnson. If the Bucks can get major contributions from Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino and Jerry Stackhouse, they will win Game 6 and win the series. The Hawks have to stop those guys and force Jennings and Salmons to do everything. Jennings and Salmons can keep the Bucks in the game themselves, but they need help from the role players to get over the hump and win the game.
The Hawks are 5-2 ATS in their last five games as a favorite and 1-5 ATS in their last six games following an ATS loss. The Bucks are 14-4 ATS in their last 18 games as an underdog, 6-2 ATS in their last eight home games, and 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 playoff games as an underdog. The over is 6-0 in the last six meetings between these teams in Milwaukee and 11-2 in the last 13 meetings overall. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between these teams and the favorite is 12-5-1 ATS in the last 18 meetings.
Ryno’s Pick: Nobody thought it could happen, but it is. The Milwaukee Bucks are VERY likely to win this game at home and move on to the next round of the NBA playoffs.