This writer recommends bettors to wait as long as possible on any game regardless of sport to put down a wager so you can gather all the facts, especially when it comes to injuries. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Hawks and Bucks from Milwaukee on Thursday is completely up in the air as of this writing regarding the best player on either team in Atlanta's Trae Young and Milwaukee's Antetokounmpo. The Bucks are currently 2-point favorites on the William Hill Sportsbook NBA odds. They opened -4.5, so that tells you it's believed Giannis isn't playing. Update: He is OUT.
Needless to say, if Young plays – he is officially questionable but expected to be a game-time decision -- and Giannis doesn't or vice versa, that spread is going to change fairly dramatically. The Bucks were 6.5-point favorites for Game 4 in Atlanta but that jumped to -9 when Young was ruled out about an hour beforehand. The Hawks were stunning 110-88 winners, the second-biggest upset spread-wise in a conference finals game over the past 30 years.
Atlanta was up by 10 with 7:14 in the third quarter when Antetokounmpo went down with what looked like a serious knee injury. With the Freak out, the Hawks outscored the Bucks 25-10 the rest of the way in the third, shot 69 percent from the field and outrebounded Milwaukee by a huge margin to blow it open.
Thankfully, there is no structural damage in Giannis' knee, but there's also no timetable for his return. It seems very, very unlikely he will play Thursday as the Bucks aren't going to risk major long-term damage to their franchise player. Officially, Giannis is listed as doubtful. Keep in mind in the last round, though, Nets star James Harden was listed as doubtful before Game 5, eventually was upgraded to questionable and did play – albeit not close to 100 percent. In the regular season, the Bucks were 6-5 without Giannis but also rested some other starters in three of those five losses.
Bobby Portis would be the leading candidate to start in Giannis' place. Khris Middleton would become the clear primary scoring option for Milwaukee and he's set at Over/Under 27.5 points, easily his biggest number of the series.
Lou Williams would surely start again if Young sits; Williams, who had never previously started a playoff game, finished with 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting along with eight assists and five rebounds in Game 4. William Hill isn't listing Over/Under props for Williams as of this writing because his numbers are so dependent on Young's status.
Another injury note: Hawks center Clint Capela took an elbow to the eye late in Game 4 and apparently had to see a team ophthalmologist but should play – he's questionable. The Hawks have won six road playoff games this year, the most in a single postseason in franchise history.
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