Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks will commence on Wednesday at Fiserv Forum.
This will be the Milwaukee Bucks’ second trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in three years under coach Mike Budenholzer, and the first since 2015 for the Atlanta Hawks in less than a season under interim coach Nate McMillan. After being taken to a Game 7 by their respective opponents in the semifinals, both teams are looking to be the East’s representative in the 2021 Finals.
Neither team was favored to emerge from the semis, but they overcame the odds to get an opportunity to be the conference champs this season.
Fixture – Atlanta Hawks vs Milwaukee Bucks | Game 1, 2021 NBA Playoffs
Date & Time – Wednesday, June 23rd, 8:30 PM ET (Thursday, June 24th, 6:00 AM IST)
Venue – Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
Atlanta Hawks Preview
Virtually no one thought that the Atlanta Hawks could put down the mighty Philadelphia 76ers, the East’s No. 1 seed this season, in the semifinals. But the scrappy Hawks found a way to outlast the Sixers in seven games, winning three of four on the road.
The Milwaukee Bucks won the season series against the Atlanta Hawks during the 2021 NBA regular season but the latter won their most recent matchup, a 111-104 win on April 25. Three-time Sixth Man of the Year winner Lou Williams scored 15 points, all in the fourth quarter, while Kevin Huerter scored 20 points for Atlanta, who played without an injured Trae Young (left ankle sprain).
This Atlanta Hawks team remains the underdog in this series just as they were in the previous two. But they have a good mix of young up-and-comers, including John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic (aside from Young and Huerter), and wily veterans such as Williams, Danilo Gallinari and Clint Capella.
Key Player – Trae Young
It will be interesting to see how Trae Young’s injured right shoulder responds to treatment and rest prior to Game 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks. The shoulder bothered him throughout the Sixers series, where he shot below 40 percent, but still put up 29.0 points and 10.9 assists per game.
Young dictates the flow of the Atlanta Hawks offense. Even when he struggles with his shot, the 22-year-old makes a huge impact with his playmaking and by drawing fouls. If the Hawks hope to take Game 1, Young will have to dominate his matchup with Milwaukee Bucks’ defensive whiz Jrue Holiday.
Atlanta Hawks Predicted Lineup
Point Guard – Trae Young l Shooting Guard – Bogdan Bogdanovic l Small Forward – Kevin Huerter l Power Forward – John Collins l Center – Clint Capela
Milwaukee Bucks Preview
After a thrilling semifinal series against the Brooklyn Nets, the Milwaukee Bucks will have a few days of rest before Game 1 of the conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks. The 115-111 Game 7 win on Saturday should have forged this team into a more formidable fighting unit, especially as it faces a team that has overcome adversity to get this far.
Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and two-time All-Star Khris Middleton will try to finish what they started two years ago in trying to lead this team to the Finals.
The Milwaukee Bucks averaged just 101.9 points per game against the Nets on 44.1 percent shooting, and they will have to raise those numbers if they want to come out of this series as winners.
Key Player – Khris Middleton
Khris Middleton had a rollercoaster semifinal against the Nets, making just 40.8 percent of his shots from the field. He also had games of 13 and 17 points in Games 1 and 2, respectively, but the Milwaukee Bucks cannot afford such a slow start from Middleton.
He made up for it in the last five games of the series, averaging 28.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.6 steals and shot 41.0 percent from three. Middleton’s production is absolutely vital to this team’s success as he gives the team a reliable perimeter threat.
For the Milwaukee Bucks to avoid a meltdown similar to the Sixers’ underwhelming effort against the Atlanta Hawks, Middleton will have to show more consistency.
Milwaukee Bucks Predicted Lineup
Point Guard – Jrue Holiday l Shooting Guard – Khris Middleton l Small Forward – P.J. Tucker l Power Forward – Giannis Antetokounmpo l Center – Brook Lopez
Hawks vs Bucks Match Prediction
No one could have predicted the Atlanta Hawks to escape past Philly in the second round, but Trae Young and company have shown a resilience that belies their collective age of 25.6 years old, 11th youngest in the NBA.
Expect the Atlanta Hawks to take advantage of their depth and the threat of their long-range shooters, while the Milwaukee Bucks try to overwhelm them with their size underneath.
Game 1s are usually feel-out games so expect a lot of miscues and missed shots from both teams at the start before they figure things out in the second half. The game should be a tight one, but it won’t be a surprise if the Atlanta Hawks shock the basketball world again with a win on the road over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Where to Watch Hawks vs Bucks?
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