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NBA playoffs preview: [3] Atlanta Hawks vs. [6] Milwaukee Bucks

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Why the Hawks can win: The Hawks should be able to take advantage of the absence of Bucks center Andrew Bogut with all-star center Al Horford and versatile forward Josh Smith. Joe Johnson and Coach Mike Woodson also have a lot at stake this postseason with their contracts expiring at season's end. A deep playoff run could help both make a lot of money this summer.

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Why the Bucks can win: Losing Bogut damaged the Bucks' hopes in the playoffs, but Coach Scott Skiles still managed to get Milwaukee to finish 4-2 without the former No. 1 overall pick. Midseason pickup John Salmons is fearless and rookie Brandon Jennings provides spunk and swagger for one of the most pleasant surprises in the league.

Difference maker: Jamal Crawford, Hawks. The 10-year veteran and front-runner for sixth man of the year makes his playoff debut, ending the longest active playoff drought at 676 games.

Bottom line: Hawks in five.

Series Schedule

Saturday: Milwaukee at Atlanta, 5:30

Tuesday: Milwaukee at Atlanta, 7

April 24: Atlanta at Milwaukee, 7

April 26: Atlanta at Milwaukee, TBD

April 28*: Milwaukee at Atlanta, TBD

April 30*: Atlanta at Milwaukee, TBD

May 2*: Milwaukee at Atlanta, TBD

* -- if necessary

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