2014 NBA Playoffs Game One: (8) Atlanta Hawks at (1) Indiana Pacers
Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
The Indiana Pacers are a bit of a mystery heading into the 2014 Playoffs.
The team was one of the hottest teams to start the year, going 33-7 over its first 40 games.
But the Pacers faltered in the latter half of the season, going just 23-19, and looking remarkably very little like the club that had thrived early in the season. The Pacers enter as 7.5 point favorites in game one against the Atlanta Hawks according to NBA oddsmakers.
One thing the Pacers have going for itself in this series against the Hawks is that Atlanta is not a good road team. The Hawks finished just 14-27 on the road this season, and of course the Pacers have homecourt advantage in the series. Adding to this, the Pacers are an extremely dangerous team at home, having finished 35-6 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 2013-14.
The Pacers added Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum mid-season, but Bynum is not available after having his knee drained and deciding he didn’t want to play any more this season. Turner has been effective off the bench, and is a good playmaker. GM Larry Bird likely sees Turner as a long-term fixture, someone to create plays since George Hill and Lance Stephenson are really scoring guards at heart.
Indy is the best defensive team in the NBA and the Hawks lack a lot of offensive firepower. Al Horford is out for the season, which renders the Hawks basically going to war with two decent scorers in Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague. But it’s going to take a lot more than that to defeat a well-rounded Pacers squad, and the Hawks are mismatched at several positions.
If Roy Hibbert can rebound and begin to play good basketball again, that presents even more problems for Atlanta. Hibbert has been putrid the last 10 games, averaging just 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 26 minutes of play a night.
The Pacers will need Hibbert to perform much closer to a 12/8 line to defeat the Miami Heat, and he can begin improving his play in this series. The Pacers should be able to cruise to an easy victory in game One against the Hawks, and this series will likely be a sweep.
ATL Trends: 5-0 ATS in last 5 overall; UNDER 4-0 in last 4 Saturday games; 4-0 ATS in last 4 vs teams with winning SU records.
IND Trends: 0-6 ATS in last 6 home games vs teams with losing records; 0-6 ATS in last 6 home games vs teams with road winning percentage of less than .400; OVER 5-0 in last 5 when opponent scores 100 points or more in previous game.
Head-to-head: OVER 13-3-1 in last 17 meetings in Indiana; Hawks 1-3-1 ATS in last 5 meetings in Indiana; OVER 9-4 in last 13 meetings.