The Bucks and Hawks are tied at one game apiece in the Eastern Conference final. Each team will look to gain the upper hand in tonight’s Game 3, which will tip-off at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
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1. Khris Middleton Under 22.5 Points | -108 at FD Sportsbook
I don’t understand why Khris Middleton’s point total is this high. Yes, he is a talented player, but he averaged just 20.4 points per game in the regular season. He has also averaged just 22 points per game through the playoffs.
These teams have met five times, and Middleton surpassed this total just once. He scored 15 points in Game 1 and Game 2, and in the regular season, he scored 19 (Jan. 24), 10 (Apr. 15), and 23 (Apr. 25).
I love this prop because the Hawks surrender the fewest points per game to small forwards, where Middleton spends 72% of his minutes. Although the injury to Donte DiVincenzo has forced the Bucks to play a bigger lineup, the Hawks have continued to defend Middleton well, and he should continue to stay under this total.
2. Bucks First Quarter -1.5 | -108 at FD Sportsbook
The Bucks have gotten out to strong starts in both first quarters of this series. They beat the Hawks by three in Game 1 and by six in Game 2, good enough to cash this play both times. This trend extends through the regular season, too — the Bucks topped the Hawks in the first quarter by totals of 17 (Jan. 24), 4 (Apr. 15), and 3 (Apr. 25).
Also, the full-season averages point to value here. The Bucks average the third-most points per first quarter (30.4) and give up the fifth-fewest (27.5). In contrast, the Hawks average the 16th-most points scored (28.3) and the 12th-fewest points allowed (28.3).
The home/away splits do give Milwaukee a smaller margin for error. The closest first quarters came in the State Farm Arena, but I’m cautiously optimistic that the Bucks will get out to an early lead.
3. P.J. Tucker Under 4.5 Points | -122 at FD Sportsbook
Now that they don’t have to defend against Kevin Durant, the Bucks have pivoted away from using P.J. Tucker. He averaged 33.6 minutes and 5.4 points per game in the series against Brooklyn, but those figures have fallen to 30.5 minutes and 2.5 points per game against Atlanta. It’s also worth noting that he averaged just 20.7 minutes and 3 points per game against Miami.
The juice is on the under here, but there is enough value in betting against Tucker to warrant playing this anyway. His minutes fell off a cliff from Game 1 (35) to Game 2 (26), and there is a decent chance that trend will continue. Also, the Hawks are playing better defensively of late, and their best defensive showings tend to come at home.
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