On today's episode, Michael and Chris give their NBA lottery winners and losers, question Team USA's roster, answer a few more emails about the Sixers (should they trade Embiid instead?), and break down the excellent conference finals that are taking place. (Hawks in 7).
Michael Pina: O.K., let's move on to the Eastern Conference finals. Last night, the Atlanta Hawks stunned the world maybe, in defeating the Milwaukee Bucks at home. You know, let's kick off this conversation with an easy question, Chris. Do the Hawks actually have a chance to win this series?
Chris Herring: Yeah. Oh, hands down. I mean, if they lost yesterday by the margin that they won by, I would say they still have a chance at the series. Milwaukee is, I mean, there's a couple of things: they're built around Giannis, who Giannis is .. he's consistently going to get you a certain amount of points, but you don't know how and when and where they're going to come. So basically, by that I mean like, we're not sure what sort of performance he is going to have in a fourth quarter. Now, to his credit, between Game 7 and certainly Game 1 of this series, he was really the only thing they had going at the end of the game yesterday. But depending on how you defend him and depending on whether he gets shy, depending on whether he is nervous or all of a sudden if he starts looking like John Stockton at the line with regards to how well he's shooting, which randomly happens from time to time, you don't know what you're going to get from that standpoint.
And lately you haven't known what you're going to get from [Jrue] Holiday or from [Khris] Middleton, which is the bigger problem. Middleton struggled, Holiday gave a great performance and it still wasn't enough. So I'm already kind of worried just from that standpoint, because you've now had a couple of really key games in a row. I mean, I guess every playoff game is critical, but where you've gotten kind of really uneven performances from the two of them. And I feel like just based on the way we've talked about Giannis for the last couple of weeks, you would think that Giannis was the one that was terribly inconsistent when it's actually been the costars. So, if Atlanta can score on Milwaukee, which clearly they can. Yeah, I think Atlanta can get this done. I think their defense is decent enough and good enough to present just enough problems for everybody else. The shots that Middleton relies on are difficult shots to begin with. And so if he's not hitting at the clip that he normally does ... and Holiday can be up and down.
Even if Giannis is consistent, you know, Atlanta is clearly good enough to beat Milwaukee, where two of the three guys play really well. So to me, yesterday is a little bit concerning if I'm Milwaukee, because you had two or three guys play well and you still lost at home. So I don't know. Trae's not going to go for 48 most nights, I think we know that. But to me, I, I don't know, like at some point you hope Bogdanović, whether it's injury or anything else, that he plays a little bit better. You know, [John] Collins was great. To me, it doesn't look like some massive talent disparity. And I think that's kind of what we've looked at for the last couple of rounds now.
Well, not last couple of rounds, but Philly, there were times where it didn't look like this massive talent disparity. And I think that's kind of the same look of last night. ... There wasn't this massive talent gap there. And quite frankly, your own [Yaron] Weitzman might have written this for Fox. Trae looks like he is either the best player on the court at times or is tied with Giannis. And when that's the case, I mean they're going to find themselves in these games; they're playing games well, I think they're six and two when it's five points or less—games are decided by five points or less in the playoffs. Atlanta could win this series, and I don't even think it's a stretch that they can win. They very clearly can win the series.