How Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Injury Has Shifted Milwaukee Bucks’ Playoff Odds

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How Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Injury Has Shifted Milwaukee Bucks’ Playoff Odds

The sixth-seeded Indiana Pacers will take on the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the upcoming playoffs. These franchises met on five occasions during the regular season, and Indiana surprisingly won four of them. 

To make matters worse for the Bucks, superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo may miss a portion of the series due to injury. He is doubtful for the first game, which has shifted the NBA betting sites lines. Given that Antetokounmpo averages roughly 30 points per game and dominates in all facets, it’s completely reasonable that his absence would significantly alter Milwaukee’s outlook. 

Pacers vs. Bucks game 1 odds

How has Giannis Antetokounmpo’s injury had an impact on the odds?

On April 9, Antetokounmpo left Milwaukee’s matchup against Boston early with a leg injury. The following day, it was announced that he suffered a calf strain and fortunately avoided damage to his Achilles. Although Antetokounmpo dodged the worst-case scenario, the strain may limit his play throughout the postseason or even sideline him for a decent chunk of games. At this point, it simply boils down to how fast he recovers, which is impossible to predict exactly. 

As a result, online sportsbooks have quickly responded to this uncertainty by changing Milwaukee’s odds. For example, the Bucks opened as 5.5-point favorites in Game 1, but they plummeted to merely 1.5-point favorites. As of April 19, the Pacers are actually now favored to take game one.

Finally, his injury has cratered Milwaukee’s futures odds. According to BetMGM Sportsbook, the Bucks had odds of +850 to win the title last week and now sit at +1400. In other words, they lost 4% of championship equity based on the decreased implied probability of the lines. While that does not seem radical, in reality, it’s a large shift. 

Why Giannis Antetokounmpo is Indiana’s nightmare

Indiana loves to push the pace but struggles to protect the paint. Due to this combination, the Pacers allowed the most restricted area field goal attempts per game this season. Enter Antetokounmpo, the top transition and rim threat in the league. He became the first player in NBA history to average 30 points per game on at least 60% shooting from the field.

Antetokounmpo’s ability to get downhill and attack the basket makes him a nightmare for Indiana’s defense, and he proved it this season. In the five matchups between the two teams, he averaged 42 points per game on 67% shooting from the field. 

Meanwhile, the Pacers spread teams out with their abundance of outside shooting. Unfortunately for them, Antetokounmpo is highly mobile on the defensive end and projects to be a massive nuisance for Indiana’s drivers when he acts as a help defender. The Pacers ranked 26th in opponent offensive rebound rate this season, too, and Antetokounmpo is a force on the glass who could snag the Bucks plenty of extra possessions. 

Overall, the former Finals MVP can exploit Indiana to a high degree, so his status is crucial for Game 1 and the series in general. 

Pacers vs. Bucks series odds

The Bucks remain favored to win this series, but the margin has notably diminished. They are around -120 to advance, an implied probability of roughly 54%. In other words, if this series were simulated 100 times, online sportsbooks would project the Bucks to win 54 times.

However, it’s worth noting that the lines in this series will likely be extremely malleable and tied to Antetokounmpo’s injury updates.