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Now What? – Charlotte Hornets

Despite being eliminated in a blowout, there’s a lot to look forward to in the Queen City. Tristan Tucker breaks down what’s to come for the Charlotte Hornets.

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Welcome back to Basketball Insiders’ “What’s Next” series. We previously covered the teams that missed both the playoffs and the Play-In Tournament. Now, we’re focusing on teams that are either on the cusp of making the playoffs or are trying to build contenders. The Charlotte Hornets, despite the outcome, had quite a fantastic season. There’s a feeling around the organization that if Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball hadn’t suffered significant injuries, the Hornets could’ve pushed for homecourt advantage in the playoffs.

That’s not far from the truth. For much of the season, Charlotte looked like a shoo-in for at least a top-six seed. However, several injuries plagued the team and sent the Hornets spiraling down the Eastern Conference standings. Even though injuries played a big part in Charlotte’s downfall, it wasn’t the only issue. So, what’s next for the Charlotte Hornets?

Strengths

At one point in the season, the Charlotte Hornets looked primed to win the Southeast Division and claim their first playoff spot since 2016. While that didn’t come to fruition, there’s no doubt that a solid framework is already laid out for the team. For the first time in ages for Charlotte, the team is loaded with young talent, which makes for difficult rotational decisions.

The elephant in the room is, of course, LaMelo Ball. Under the recently implemented lottery odds, the Hornets were able to jump up to the No. 3 selection in 2020 to acquire the young guard. Not only did Ball deliver on the hype, he flat-out dominated in his rookie season. He hasn’t even turned 20 and yet, Ball put up 15.7 points and 6.1 assists per game this year. Furthermore, the guard shot the lights out before going down with an injury, which was one of his only pre-draft weaknesses.

Charlotte also boasts P.J. Washington, who has the makings of an All-Star. Washington finished his season averaging 12.9 points and 6.5 rebounds while serving as a perfect small-ball stretch five for Ball and company. Though he was relatively stagnant between his rookie and sophomore seasons, Washington has a full offseason ahead to develop. Further, Washington may already be Charlotte’s best defensive player. Washington posted the second-best defensive rating on the team while leading the team in total blocks and ranking third in steals.

Outside of Washington and Ball, there are plenty of other dominant young players. Miles Bridges does more than put up highlight-reel dunks, he’s the perfect pick-and-roll complement to Ball. Bridges even took a major leap offensively, coming ridiculously close to the elusive 50/40/90 club.

Both Malik Monk and Devonte’ Graham had their fair share of highlights and Jalen McDaniels excelled in an expanded role. The Martin twins, Cody and Caleb, faltered slightly in their play from last year, but both gave the Hornets good minutes. Vernon Carey Jr. showed glimpses of offensive greatness while Nick Richards looked great on the other end of the floor. Even two-way contract players Grant Riller and Nate Darling were two undrafted rookie steals. 

In fact, there are positive things to say about every player on this roster. Team building has been an absolute strength for general manager Mitch Kupchak and the rest of the front office. The way this roster has been built leaves the door wide open for internal growth because every young player on the team has shown potential for rotational greatness.

That’s where Charlotte’s other big strength comes in: coaching. James Borrego is from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree, which has paid obvious dividends for the Hornets. Borrego’s philosophy of playing players that earn playing time was massive for the team last season. Former head coach Steve Clifford seemed to rely heavily on former Hornets veterans like Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams, which didn’t give many opportunities for younger players to step in.

Borrego adjusts his rotations based on how players fare in practice, not their tenure. That allowed Charlotte to get a jumpstart on its rebuild and for its younger players to see the limelight much earlier.

Last but not least, the Hornets have Hayward and Terry Rozier. Both players played at All-Star levels last season and have far exceeded expectations. Many thought Hayward, earning $28.5 million in 2020-21, and Rozier, earning $18.9 million, were vast overpays. However, both gave the Hornets cornerstone options and the perfect complementary players for their young core.

Weaknesses

While there are many strengths of the Hornets, it isn’t all sunny in the Queen City. Firstly, size and the center rotation were glaring issues for the team. Part of the reason the Hornets lost so badly in the Play-In Tournament was because they had nobody that could stop Domantas Sabonis or Goga Bitadze from snagging boards.

Charlotte’s center rotation was spread between three players for the majority of the season: Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo and Carey. Starting with Zeller, it’s clear to see the Hornets were phasing him out of their rotation. A longtime starting lineup staple, Zeller appeared in just 48 games with 21 starts on the year. The Hornets actually played well in his minutes, but a change in scenery is possibly on the horizon.

For starters, Zeller isn’t able to do much defending if he’s spread out beyond the rim. Zeller is the second-tallest player on the roster and is quite slow. So if Zeller gets taken out of his comfort zone by a guard or wing, it’s an immediate issue for Charlotte.

Beyond Zeller, the Hornets did some experimentation. Biyombo actually got 36 starts on the year but ranked seventh in minutes played. Like Zeller, Biyombo is only effective at the rim on defense. But unlike Zeller, Biyombo is not able to generate any offense for himself and often finds himself at the mercy of a defender if he tries to post up with his 6-foot-8 frame.

Carey got looks at the starting center position, and put up some offensive highlights, but is ineffective on defense. Carey is slow to react to attackers with the ball and it is costly. Furthermore, Carey is just 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, so he often finds himself on the wrong end of a mismatch. While Biyombo is similarly small, his 7-foot-6 wingspan allows him to mask his size at the rim, whereas Carey is not.

Washington was the other player to see minutes at the five, and those were some of the most successful of the season. Charlotte’s fourth and sixth-most used lineups on the year both feature Washington at center and post a plus-21.4 and plus-30.4 rating, respectively. Out of Charlotte’s five-man lineups to see more than 50 minutes, only five of 11 boasted positive ratings. Three of those five featured Washington at center.

So while Washington played well in those minutes, the team suffered miserably in minutes without him at that position. For reference, Biyombo helmed the five for the first, third and fifth-most used five-man groupings and those lineups were a -10, -19.3 and -47.5, respectively. The Hornets need center help in the worst way.

Opportunities

Luckily for Charlotte, the free-agent market and draft present excellent opportunities for improvement at the five. For starters, free agent Richaun Holmes of the Sacramento Kings is expected to see significant interest from the Hornets. Holmes would present an immediate upgrade with size, and he’s a quicker defender than the Hornets’ current selection. Furthermore, Holmes is just 27 and posted 14.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Outside of Holmes, the draft is rife with stellar young centers. Evan Mobley would be a pipe dream for the Hornets, as he’s one of the best defenders in the draft and has major star potential. It’s not impossible that the Hornets jump up, they moved from the eighth-best odds last year to the third pick when they landed Ball. This year, the Hornets have an 8.5 percent chance of moving into the top four.

Even if the Hornets can’t get a top pick, there will be several premium options available at No. 11, where they are currently slotted. One particular standout is Alperen Sengun, who is quickly rising up the big boards of NBA teams. Sengun stands out as a potential Hornets acquisition because he’s just 18, is 6-foot-10 and plays like a point guard at times. Sengun averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 boards, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.7 blocks per game in Turkey. According to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, Sengun averaged around four assists per game in his last 14 games. Sengun currently ranks eighth on Vecenie’s board.

Other opportunities will come with how cohesive this group becomes. If Ball develops into an All-Star level player in a similar way to guards like Ja Morant or Trae Young, the Hornets could quickly become an Eastern Conference contender.

Threats

Outside of the draft, Charlotte’s offseason begins and ends with how the franchise handles the pending free agency of Monk and Graham. Both players showed the potential for greatness across their Charlotte tenures but neither has lived up to the hype.

Graham exploded onto the scene last year as a Most Improved Player candidate. Graham averaged 18.2 points and shooting 37.3 percent from range on 9.3 attempts per game last year. Graham’s performance also earned him a spot in the three-point contest last season. While Graham is a fantastic sniper, he doesn’t offer much else for Charlotte. He was one of the team’s best players last season but took a step back and saw his numbers, outside of three-point clip, dip from what they were before.

Alternatively, Monk had a lot of hype surrounding him following his selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. Monk was college teammates of Bam Adebayo and De’Aaron Fox and became notorious for his dynamic college season at Kentucky. However, it hasn’t all clicked for Monk. He had a tremendous 2020-21 season but he also missed time the year prior due to a PED-related suspension.

Both Monk and Graham will likely earn eight figures per year when they hit free agency. Charlotte’s decision revolving around both will likely determine the trajectory of Borrego’s guard rotation and how Ball’s role develops over time. If the Hornets overpay for one or both of Monk/Graham, then it could spell trouble for the team. However, Kupchak has a history of proving doubters wrong when it comes to free-agent signings, as seen with Hayward and Rozier.

Regardless of what happens in the offseason, the Hornets clearly have the pieces necessary to compete. It’s all just a matter of figuring out which players are here for the long run and building around those. One thing is for certain: it’s a new era in Charlotte.

My name is Tristan Tucker and I am a basketball writer currently enrolled at North Carolina State University. I am the school paper's assistant sports editor and have written for SB Nation and Fansided. I joined Basketball Insiders in December of 2020.

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NBA Daily: Milwaukee Bucks Face Unique Situation

Despite a successful season, Tristan Tucker looks at why the Milwaukee Bucks face uncertainty regarding their future.

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Despite beating the dominant Brooklyn Nets in seven games, the Milwaukee Bucks face more uncertainty about their future than any other team in the playoffs. Last season, the Bucks accrued a 56-17 record that was good for best in the league. However, the team disappointed and saw a second-round exit at the hands of the Miami HEAT.

After that disappointing finish to a season that many believed would lead to an NBA Championship, the Bucks faced many criticisms. In response, Milwaukee rushed to fix many of those issues. Eric Bledsoe and a boatload of first-round picks were traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for defensive stalwart Jrue Holiday. The team then swapped out its bench rotation, filling it out with players like P.J. Tucker, Bobby Portis and Bryn Forbes. The Bucks even got older rookies Sam Merrill and Mamadi Diakite to play quick spot minutes.

But Milwaukee’s biggest criticism was one that was left unresolved: the coaching situation. Head coach Mike Budenholzer is a two-time NBA Coach of the Year winner. Budenholzer first won the award after getting the Atlanta Hawks over 60 wins in 2014-15. Then, he did it again with the Bucks two years ago. Despite his metal, Budenholzer’s rotation decisions were met with criticism and confusion during the heartbreaking loss to Miami in 2020. Many fans around the league noticed that many stars were playing well over 40 minutes in big games and never played less than 36. Meanwhile, Milwaukee’s big names sat for extended periods of time.

For reference, Anthony Davis and LeBron James for the Los Angeles Lakers played over 36 minutes per game in the playoffs last season. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo did the same for the HEAT. Both of those teams moved on to the Finals. On the other hand, Khris Middleton led the team with 35.5 minutes per game in the playoffs while Giannis Antetokounmpo played just 30.8 minutes a night.

Despite this, Milwaukee’s brain trust kept Budenholzer into the 2020-21 season. And so far, that seems like the right decision. The Bucks came back in a big way in the playoffs, being the only team to sweep another team, Miami, in the first round. Then, the Bucks battled back into the series against the Nets, evening the series twice after falling back the same number of times before eventually overcoming the then-title favorites. The team is now matched up with the scorching-hot Hawks and has gone down 1-0 in the series.

All seems to be going relatively well for the Bucks despite the current series. Budenholzer seems to have learned his lesson, his stars are all playing over 37 minutes per game. In fact, the whole rotation seems to be clicking.

Middleton in particular put together the best postseason performance of his career in Game 6 against the Nets. The former All-Star ended that contest with 38 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals, missing just five of his 16 shots. This isn’t new for Middleton, who is the face of consistency in the league. Outside of an injury-marred 2016-17 season, Middleton has averaged around 20 points per game for almost six straight years.

In each of the last two seasons, Middleton came within inches of securing a 50/40/90 season. Both seasons have seen a respectable amount of attempts from deep and the charity stripe. Middleton even became the go-to guy on offense for the Bucks. Just watch his and his teammates’ confidence in him as he buried a four-point play to ice Game 6 against Brooklyn:

It isn’t just Middleton. Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing more aggressively as of late, securing 30 points on 20 field goal attempts in Game 6 against the Nets. “The Greek Freak” followed that performance up with a 40-point showing to clinch that series, officially avenging last year. In Milwaukee’s Game 1 loss to Atlanta, Antetokounmpo put up 34 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists in 41 minutes.

Holiday hasn’t had the best playoff stint of his career, but there’s no denying how absurdly better the team’s perimeter defense is with Holiday substituting for Bledsoe and George Hill. The team’s faith in Holiday paid off with a 33-point, 10-assist showing that saw the middle Holiday brother connect on five 3-pointers.

Some of the most notable changes came from Milwaukee’s bench. Forbes and Portis in particular took the next step as players this year. Both players took one-year bets on themselves in the offseason that are sure to result in paydays this summer. Portis and Forbes ranked third and fourth in the regular season in three-point percentage, respectively. Forbes in particular became notorious for how he torched the HEAT in the first round from deep.

And yet, despite the positives, the Bucks still face one of the biggest crossroads of any team in the playoffs. And it all depends on how deep this team can go.

Despite beating the Nets, Budenholzer is still on the hot seat. While Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the series win over Brooklyn will go a long way in determining Budenholzer’s future, the two-time Coach of the Year still hasn’t made the Finals as a head coach. If Budenholzer and the Bucks lose to the Hawks, who they are much better than on paper, it could have a ripple effect on the franchise. In fact, several reports indicate that the team is already looking at potential replacements if things go south.

It’s an odd turnaround for a team that is experiencing the high of knocking off the title favorites. Middleton had a poor Game 1, and the team likely doesn’t lose that game if he is clicking. But Budenholzer’s questionable rotation decisions still plagued the team, with seldom-used Jeff Teague seeing six critical minutes against Trae Young.

Firing a head coach especially one as successful as Budenholzer has been in the regular season is no small task. The move would likely come with several other staff and roster changes.

Despite how great Portis and Forbes have been for the team, it’s unlikely Milwaukee can afford either moving forward. Portis and Forbes both have player options for next season, Portis at $3.8 million and Forbes at $2.4 million. There’s no way either remains on the Bucks at that price with a weak free-agent class on the horizon. And unfortunately, the Bucks don’t have the money to re-sign either to a huge number.

That path would lead to the team being extremely aggressive with what money and assets it does have. The team reportedly agreed to trade Donte DiVincenzo — who is now out with injury — for Bogdan Bogdanovic in a sign-and-trade before Bogdanovic refused to be traded there. Other players like Brook Lopez and Pat Connaughton have tradeable salaries and could help bring in another impact player.

If the Bucks went the distance, Budenholzer would most likely stay and the franchise would avoid a culture reset. Forbes and Portis probably still depart, but other free agents like Tucker would likely be more inclined to re-sign for a smaller salary.

In that case, the team would be more inclined to sit back and watch internal growth. Players like Jordan Nwora, Merrill or Diakite could fill the holes left by potential Forbes or Portis departures. That isn’t to say the team wouldn’t be aggressive, but there isn’t a team left in the playoffs that would see such a huge change if they were eliminated. 

Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns was a Coach of the Year finalist. The Suns have the assets for internal and external growth if eliminated. The Hawks vastly improved from the last season, and have a direct pathway to getting better through guys like De’Andre Hunter and Onyeka Okongwu. And the Los Angeles Clippers will likely retain Tyronn Lue and Kawhi Leonard this offseason, even if things go awry.

Unfortunately for Budenholzer, this is a unique situation. There haven’t been many do-or-die cases involving jobs this deep into the playoffs involving contenders. For Budenholzer, winning the title secures his job. If he fails to do so, it could spell the end of his Milwaukee tenure.

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Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers Game 3 predictions, picks and betting tips: Bet Home Court Dogs on Friday Night

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Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals takes place at 9pm ET on Friday. Our experts have made their predictions and betting picks for the Clippers vs Suns at the Staples Center.

Register an account with Bovada and bet on the 2021 NBA Finals with a $750 Free Bet.

Cynics will tell you that L.A. is a city of a million shattered dreams, and if Deandre Ayton’s last second alleyoop slam-dunk is anything to go by, those cynics aren’t exactly wrong.

The Phoenix Suns marched into a 2-0 series lead vs. the Clippers as a result of Ayton’s heroics. The 104-103 victory meant Monty Williams team now takes a firm grasp of the Western Conference finals.

Despite being down 2-0 in the series, it appears the average American bettor hasn’t given up hope on the Clippers staging part one of a comeback in game 3. Indeed, why would they? We’ve seen way over 400 teams return from a 2-0 deficit in the playoffs over the years. Plus, if Paul George (26 pts in Game 2) decides to wage war again, the Clippers do have half a chance, even without Leonard…

Besides, why wouldn’t you place a couple wagers on a mild underdog on the NBA betting lines?

All odds from Bovada Sportsbook. New customers get $750 free to bet on Suns @ Clippers

Western Conference Finals – Game 3: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Moneyline Odds 

Phoenix Suns: -115

Los Angeles Clippers: -107

Western Conference Finals – Game 3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Spread (DraftKings NBA Playoff Odds)

Phoenix Suns -1

Los Angeles Clippers -1

Los Angeles Clippers Preview

Other than the pain of a last second defeat, the big news coming out of the Clippers camp remains the fact that the team’s best player, Kawhi Leonard, is still out injured.

Leonard had averaged over 30.0 points per game during the playoffs until going down with a knee injury towards the end of Game 4 vs. Utah in the last round. The current prognosis is not good – he will almost certainly miss out again.

There is series-hope for Clippers fans in the form of SG Paul George, who himself is averaging 26.6 points per game in the postseason; not to mention the fact that L.A. has twice before returned from a 2-0 deficit in the playoffs. But they have to get something going in Game 3 – no team has ever returned from 3-0 down in NBA playoff history.

Nevertheless, what hope is left is dangling by a thread at present. Up against a full-strength Phoenix team that’s riding high on the confidence of a last-minute win, it’s going to be tough evening’s work for George, Jackson and co. come Thursday night.

That said, L.A. does have home-court advantage and di just lose by the 1 point. So, it’s little surprise the two teams have been given similar odds – Game 3 is anyone’s game.

Phoenix Suns Preview

The Suns did what they needed to do, took advantage of being at home for games 1 and 2 and now take a lead to LA. Game 2 was on a knife edge throughout, so they’re not as dominant over the Clippers as some may have thought, but the 2-0 lead is huge. As mentioned above, they’ll be hoping that Leonard can’t make it to the court on Thursday night, but even if he does, they can rely upon the likes of Devin Booker, Cameron Payne and game 2 hero Deandre Ayton to stifle the Clippers. They’ve now won 9 straight in the playoffs and they’ll take some stopping to make it 10.

Chris Paul is expected back from a stint on COVID protocol soon. But Game 3 might come too early. Expect Paul to miss out again.

Other than that, the Suns are surely shining bright en route to Los Angeles following Ayton’s heroics in the previous clash. The Clippers have caused them problems throughout the first two games, but the Suns seem to have that little bit extra in the tank: more guile; more nous, and, even if Leonard could take to the court with the Clippers, – arguably – more talent.

Devin Booker has been in superb form in the series thus far, putting up 40 points over the course of the first two contests – look for him on the player prop market.

Overall, there’s a reason the Suns have been made favorites by the NBA oddsmakers, and there’s no reason to expect anything other than a continuation of the their dominance in Game 3…

Western Conference Finals – Game 3: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Prediction

We’ve spent all this time waxing lyrical about Phoenix, but the Clippers deserve a result. They have pulled out all the stops in the absence of Leonard and, in our humble opinion, eventually hard work pays off.

We are vouching for the homecourt underdogs on the moneyline: Clippers to win at -107

Register an account with Bovada and bet on the 2021 NBA Finals with a $750 Free Bet.

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NBA Finals Betting Odds : 2021 NBA Championship Odds Update as Conference Finals Continue

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The 2021 NBA Conference Finals are now underway and so look at the updated Championships odds for the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers.

Register an account with Bovada and bet on the 2021 NBA Finals with a $750 Free Bet.

Few expected to see the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks L.A. Clippers, and Phoenix Suns make up the final four of the NBA Championship Playoffs. But each team has made it this far on merit, and the performances don’t lie – the cream always rises to the top.

In the Western Conference Final, DeAndre Ayton broke Clippers hearts last night when, with 0.5 seconds remaining in the fourth, he came up trumps with a sublime alleyoop dunk. Those 2 points put the Suns 104-103 ahead, as they took a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.

The Hawks are all set to travel to the Bucks for the first game of the Eastern Conference finals tonight, in a game that will see two of the NBA’s finest talents, Atlanta G Trae Young and Milwaukee PF Giannis Antetokounmpo come face to face.

2021 NBA Championship Odds

With games coming thick and fast and players bouncing into and out of form and IR in this year’s epic conference finals, it’s about time to check in and see what the sportsbooks make of all the action, as we take a look at the 2021 NBA odds for the 2021 national championship.

Clippers NBA Championship Odds Continue to Dwindle Without Kawhi Leonard

It’s hard not to feel bad for Clippers fans: without their superb small forward Kawhi Leonard, and the 25 points per game he tends to put up, life was always going to be tough vs. the Phoenix, even without the Suns having their electrifying playmaker Chris Paul out on court. And so, it has proven.

After that tough final second loss, the Clippers have seen their odds drop from +440 at the start of the playoffs to between +1500 (FanDuel). If they lose again on Thursday (June 24), expect to see the odds reach into the +infinity category, since no NBA team has EVER come back from 3-0 down in the playoffs.

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue must now be thinking about just wheeling Kawhi Leonard out there in a wheelchair for one final assault. But don’t write his team off just yet: L.A came within 1point and they did that without their best player – there’s still a chance; they make it through and we’ll find out for sure come Thursday.

Los Angeles Clippers NBA Finals Odds: +1500 – Click HERE to bet with Bovada Online

Suns’ Odds to win NBA Championship Continue to Rise

The bad news for the Clippers is that Chris Paul is expected to be back in action for the Suns quickly. The diminutive playmaker broke COVID protocol, which was stupid, but did get himself vaccinated beforehand (not so stupid) and will be available sooner rather than later as a result.

Plus, Devin Booker more than carried the mantle in Paul’s absence during last night’s second meet. Booker put up 40 points in total as the Suns asserted their dominance.

It’s the strength in depth and the team’s ability to hurt its opposition all over the court that has seen the odds on the Suns continue to shorten. Monty Williams’ team began the playoffs as massive outsiders at +2500. But their odds are now just +115.

Phoenix Suns NBA Finals Odds: +115 – Click HERE to bet with Bovada Online

NBA Betting Lines not Favoring the Hawks

Atlanta’s incredible 4-3 series defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers is the stuff of legend and the Hawks deserve a tremendous amount of credit for pulling that result out of the bag; even if the 76ers were missing Joel Emblid for a few games.

Enough about that though. With players like G Trae Young to boast among the ranks, you’d give the Hawks a chance against anyone, including vs. the Bucks this evening.

That said, Milwaukee is a big ask for Nate McMillan’s team. During the regular season, the Bucks posted the highest field goal accuracy (91.8), the 2nd most rebounds per game, and the 5th most 3-pointers per game – they are a team that can punish you if given just half-a-chance.

Sorry Atlanta fans. But it seems likely to us that the McMillan Cinderella story ends here.

Then again… we’ve been wrong before and at +1300, it’s worth a Hail Mary for sure!

Atlanta Hawks’ NBA Finals Odds: +1300 – Click HERE to bet with Bovada Online

The Bucks are the Betting Favorites to be NBA Champions

The Bucks began the playoffs with NBA Vegas odds of +800 on the moneyline. If you are one of the lucky ones who picked them up on those odds, hold tight: you’re looking good right now; Milwaukee fans are dreaming of being NBA Champions for the first time in 50 years.

Greek sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo has been on fire throughout the Bucks’ postseason run, putting up 30 points in six games thus far! With Middleton and Brook Lopez, in particular, among the supporting cast, the Bucks offense puts up big numbers and rarely turns the ball over without something to show for it.

It’s not that the Hawks don’t have playmakers of their own – they do. But defensively, they don’t touch this Bucks team that features both Jrue Holiday (DPOY) and Antekounmpo (2X DPOY). That’s why the odds are so short on Milwaukee and so long on Atlanta – the sportsbooks don’t fancy the Hawks to score enough.

Milwaukee Bucks’ NBA Finals Odds: +105 – Click HERE to bet with Bovada Online

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