Eastern Conference Playoffs: #1 Atlanta Hawks vs #8 Brooklyn Nets

2015 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

#1 Atlanta Hawks vs #8 Brooklyn Nets
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: Atlanta -1333 / Brooklyn +875
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook

Game #1 Philips Arena – Atlanta, Georgia
Sunday, April 19, 2015, 5:35 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Atlanta -10
Current Line: Atlanta -10 1/2
Opening Total: 201 1/2
Current Total: 202 1/2
Opening Money Line: Hawks-600 / Nets +460
Current Money Line: Hawks -600 / Nets +460

The Hawks open the playoffs at home against the Nets Sunday.
The Hawks open the playoffs at home against the Nets Sunday.

The 60-22 Atlanta Hawks have the second best record in basketball behind the Golden State Warriors who are 67-15. The Hawks won the Southeast Division by 14 games over the Washington Wizards and are the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference by 7 games over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yet, Atlanta seems like an afterthought at best among title contenders. The Hawks are almost 4/1 to win the East behind the Cavs at -183 and are the fourth choice to win the NBA Championship at 12/1 behind the Warriors, Cavaliers, and San Antonio Spurs according to 5Dimes Sportsbook.

Even the first round series price against the 38-44 Brooklyn Nets is a little low at -1333. That series gets underway Sunday in Atlanta. The winner will face either the #4 Toronto Raptors or #5 Washington Wizards in the conference semifinals.

Atlanta won all four meetings against Brooklyn by an average of 17 points this season. The Hawks won at Brooklyn 98-75 December 5, and 114-111 April 8. Atlanta won at home 113-102 January 28 and 131-99 April 4.

Brooklyn, coached by Lionel Hollins,  finished third in the Atlantic Division 11 games behind Toronto. The Nets tied with the Indiana Pacers for the last playoff spot in the East, but the Nets won the head to head tiebreaker. Brooklyn is in the playoffs for the third straight season.

The Hawks had never won 60 games in a season before this year. It was also their first division title since 1994. Atlanta, coached by Mike Budenholzer, is in the playoffs for the eighth straight season but they have never made it past the second round during that run. The Hawks know that even though they are the #1 seed, they can’t take beating the Nets for granted. Last year, Atlanta was the #8 seed and took the #1 Indiana Pacers to the limit in the full seven games.

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Brooklyn went 3-4 down the stretch but won when they needed to in order to hold off the Pacers. The Nets won 101-88 at home Wednesday night 101-88 against the Orlando Magic to clinch the spot. Brooklyn is 39-41-2 ATS and the total is 37-45 this season. The Nets were 9 point favorites against the Magic and the total was 203.

Atlanta went 7-8 in the last 15 games including a 3 game losing streak to end the season. The Hawks rested their starters down the stretch after they had already wrapped up the #1 seed. Atlanta lost at the Chicago Bulls 91-85 Wednesday night. The Hawks are 50-30-2 this season and the total is 42-40. Atlanta was a 5.5 point underdog against Chicago and the total was 198.

Brooklyn is being outscored 101-98 this season. The Nets are shooting 45.3% from the field and 33% from 3 point range. The Nets make 75% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 45.5% from the field and 38.8% from 3 point range. Brooklyn averages 43.2 rebounds per game and opponents average 44.2 rebounds per game. The Nets average 20.9 assists, 13.4 turnovers, 7 steals and 4.2 blocks per game.

Brook Lopez averages 17.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Joe Johnson averages 14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Johnson was an all-star player for the Hawks until 2012 when he signed with the Nets. Deron Williams averages 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game. Jarrett Jack averages 11.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. Alan Anderson is probable with an ankle injury. Darius Morris is questionable with the flu. Sergey Karasev and Mirza Teletovic are both out for the season.

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Atlanta is outscoring teams 103-97 this season. The Hawks are in the top ten in both categories. Atlanta is shooting 46.6% from the field and 38% from 3 point range. The Hawks are #4 or better in both categories. Atlanta is #5 in free throw shooting at 77.5% from the line. Opponents are shooting 43.9% from the field and 34.1% from 3 point range. The Hawks are #7 or better in both categories. Atlanta averages 40.6 rebounds and opponents average 43.6 per game. The Hawks are #28 in rebounding. Atlanta averages 25.7 assists, 13.5 turnovers, 9.1 steals and 4.6 blocks per game.

Paul Millsap averages 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He is probable with a shoulder injury. Jeff Teague averages 15.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Al Horford averages 15.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. DeMarre Carroll averages 12.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game.Kyle Korver averages 12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Dennis Schroder averages 10 points, 2.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Mike Scott and Pero Antic are both probable. Thabo Sefolosha is out for the season with a broken leg.

Brooklyn is 4-1 ATS on 3 days rest, 9-21 against Southeast teams, 1-4 after a straight up win, 1-10 after a straight up win of 10 points or more, 0-3-1 in Sunday games, and 0-4-1 after a cover. The underdog is 7-3 ATS in this series recently. The road team is 5-1 ATS in this series recently.

Atlanta is 6-1 ATS against teams with losing road records, 5-1 at home, 8-3-1 after failing to cover, 12-5 after a straight up loss, 7-3 against teams with losing records, 2-6 against Atlantic Division teams, and 1-4-1 in Sunday games. The over is 4-1 in Atlanta in this series recently. The Hawks have covered 4 of the last 5 games against the Nets.

Atlanta rested their starters for the last week or two. That is good to have rest, but it can be difficult to turn that switch on for the playoffs. Still, Atlanta should have little trouble with Brooklyn. I like the Hawks to win game #1 and series in four games.

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