Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals is on Thursday night. The Atlanta Hawks head north once again to face off against the Milwaukee Bucks in a pivotal matchup. Both organizations are dealing with injuries, as it’s possible Trae Young and Giannis Antetokounmpo both don’t play. We’ll see who has the best depth, as Game 5 gives a huge advantage to the winner.
With Trae Young potentially out, the Hawks will need to rely on scoring elsewhere like they did in a dominant Game 4 victory. Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed as doubtful, which means he’s not likely to play due to his knee injury. If there’s no Giannis to dominate in the paint, the Bucks will need to heat up from the outside and actually hit some 3-point shots, which has been an issue in the playoffs.
Here are three bold predictions for this Hawks-Bucks Game 5 matchup.
1. John Collins leads Hawks in scoring
John Collins had a quiet night in Game 4, but he could be in for a huge performance on Thursday night. With Giannis not at 100%, or potentially not playing, a huge hole is left at the power forward position in Milwaukee. This is a perfect opportunity for Collins to put the team on his shoulders and carry them through a pivotal Game 5 victory.
The Hawks should highly consider getting him going early and often, as it will apply pressure on the Bucks from the get-go. Milwaukee won’t be nearly as stout in the paint if Giannis isn’t available. Brook Lopez will be busy with Clint Capela, and it’s not like Bobby Portis is much of a deterrent down low. If Collins has a big night, the Hawks could pull out with a lead in this series.
2. Bucks shoot 40+% from 3-point line
Milwaukee was awful from the 3-point line in Game 4 and must improve in order to to win on Thursday night. Shooting 20.9% from deep isn’t going to cut it. Additionally, the Bucks lost their main scoring option down low, so Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday must step up and hit their shots. This might just be the Bucks’ best chance of pulling out of Game 5 with a win.
Additionally, Trae Young is hurt and is a game-time decision. The Bucks have to take advantage of a hobbled Trae, as Milwaukee suddenly has the edge in the backcourt with him out. Lighting it up from deep hasn’t been a normal aspect of this Bucks team in the playoffs, but they need to find their regular-season shooting stroke to win.
3. Hawks take a 3-2 series lead
At the end of the night, the Hawks have better depth on their roster than the Bucks. They proved that in Game 4 when they dominated the Bucks with Trae Young sitting on the bench. Now with Antetokounmpo hurt, the Hawks can really take advantage and give themselves a 3-2 lead in this series. Not only do they take a lead, but the Hawks would play Game 6 in Atlanta, where they’d have a chance to close out the series at home.