NBA Eastern Conference Betting Preview: Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks
Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
The Indiana Pacers are 37-10 on the season and hold a three game lead over the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference’s best record. The Pacers have been especially dominant at home, but will travel to face the Atlanta Hawks in a matchup NBA oddsmakers at Bovada are favoring the Pacers by 3.5-points.
Indiana is 14-8 on the road and Atlanta is a good team at home (16-7), but few are expecting anything other than a Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Final. Atlanta lost Josh Smith in free agency, but the net effect on the win/loss may not be quite what was expected. The team that acquired Smith, the Detroit Pistons, is out of the playoff picture, while the Hawks have thrived with Paul Millsap as the Smith-replacement.
Atlanta ranks third in the East behind the two powerhouses, and the efficiency and team play can be seen in the fact the Hawks lead the NBA in assists per game. Jeff Teague is quietly one of the better point guards in the East, and is averaging a team-high 7.3 assists per game. Al Horford is now arguably the best center in the East, averaging 18.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Unfortunately, Horford is out for the remainder of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. With that injury, Atlanta went from being a quasi-contender to first round fodder, most likely.
The Hawks offense will encounter problems with the Pacers’ “D,” which ranks tops in the NBA, allowing just 90.3 points per game. Last year’s Most Improved Player Paul George is now making a legitimate case for MVP, though Kevin Durant is the clear frontrunner.
Paul is averaging 22.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Lance Stephenson has four triple-doubles on the year, but is a restricted free agent this offseason. Logic stands to dictate that the Pacers will spend the money to keep Stephenson, but if some lowly team offers a max contract the Pacers may not be able to match that.
IND Trends: 0-4 ATS in last 4 on 0 days rest; OVER 7-1-1 in last 9 vs teams with home winning percentages above .600; 1-5 ATS in last 6 when opponent allows 100 or more in previous game.
ATL Trends: OVER 5-0 in last 5 following ATS Win; 4-0 ATS in last 4 overall; UNDER 7-1 in last 8 vs teams with winning road records.
Head-to-head: Pacers 2-9 ATS in last 11 meetings in Atlanta; UNDER 5-2 in last 7 meeting in Atlanta; OVER 7-3 in last 10 meetings overall.