Eastern Conference Semifinals Betting Picks: Washington Wizards vs Atlanta Hawks

2015 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

#1 Atlanta Hawks vs #5 Washington Wizards
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: Atlanta -260 / Brooklyn +220
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook

Game #1 Philips Arena – Atlanta, Georgia
Sunday, May 3, 2015, 1:05 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Opening Line: Atlanta -5 1/2
Current Line: Atlanta -5
Opening Total: 197
Current Total: 198 1/2
Opening Money Line: Hawks -210 / Nets +180
Current Money Line: Hawks -215 / Nets +185

The Wizards and Hawks meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game one is Sunday in Atlanta.
The Wizards and Hawks meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game one is Sunday in Atlanta.

The 60-22 Atlanta Hawks won the Southeast Division by 14 games over the 46-36 Washington Wizards. The two teams will meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals with game one Sunday in Atlanta. The winner will play either the #2 seed Cleveland Cavaliers or #3 seed Chicago Bulls in the conference finals.

Atlanta won three of the four meetings against Washington in the regular season. The only loss for the Hawks came in the last week of the regular season at Washington 108-99 when the Hawks were resting their starters after clinching the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta won in Washington 106-102 November 25 and at home 120-89 January 11 and 105-96 February 4. This is the fifth time the Hawks and Wizards have met in the playoffs but this is the first time since 1979 when they met in the conference semifinals.

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In the first round of the playoffs, many thought it was a mere formality that Atlanta would beat the #8 seed Brooklyn Nets. Call it rust from not having to play a meaningful game in the last month of the season, but Atlanta did not look sharp. The Hawks won the series in six tough games, but besides the clinching game six Friday night in Brooklyn every game was competitive in the final minute. The Hawks won game six 111-87 to wrap up the series after winning two straight games when the series was tied 2-2.

Washington was the #5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and played the #4 seed Toronto Raptors in the first round. Toronto won the Atlantic Division with a 49-33 record, and most people thought it would the most competitive of the four Eastern Conference series. However, Washington swept the series 4-0 including a 125-94 rout in game four last Sunday.

Atlanta is coached by Mike Budenholzer, who was named NBA coach of the year. The Hawks had never won 60 games in a season before this year. It was also their first division title since 1994. Atlanta is in the playoffs for the eighth straight season but they have never made it past the second round during that run. The Hawks are 52-34-2 this season and the total is 43-46. Atlanta was a five point favorite against the Nets in game six and the total was 198.5.

Washington is coached by Randy Wittman. The Wizards are in the playoffs for the second straight year and lost in this round last year to the #1 seed Indiana Pacers. Washington is 37-46-3 ATS and the total is 41-43-2. The Wizards were 6.5 point favorites against the Raptors in game four and the total was 197.5. Washington covered every game in the series.

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.

In the playoffs, forward DeMarre Carroll averages 17.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists  per game. Paul Millsap averages 15.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. He is probable with a shoulder injury. Kyle Korver averages 15.5 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Jeff Teague averages 14.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 2 steals per game. Al Horford averages 14.3 points, 10 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game. Horford suffered a dislocated pinky in game one of the Brooklyn and has been playing with his hand taped but is probable.  Dennis Schroder averages 9.3 points and 3.3 assists. Thabo Sefolosha is out for the season with a broken leg.

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Washington is outscoring teams 99-97 this season. The Wizards are #8 in points allowed in the NBA. Washington is shooting 46.5% from the field and 36% from 3 point range. The Wizards are in the top ten in both categories. Washington makes 74.2% from the free throw line. Opponents are shooting 43.3% from the field and 34.4% from 3 point range. Washington is #2 in field goal defense. The Wizards average 44.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 41.5 per game. Washington is in the top 10 in both categories. The Wizards average 24.1 assists, 14.3 turnovers, 7.4 steals and 4.6 blocks per game.

In the playoffs, Bradley Beal averages 20.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.5 steals per game. John Wall averages 17.3 points, 4 rebounds, 12.5 assists and 1 block per game. He is probable with a shoulder strain. Marcin Gortat averages 17.3 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks per game.  Paul Pierce averages 15.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Garrett Temple is probable with a hamstring injury after missing the whole Toronto series.

Washington is 6-0-1 ATS against teams with winning records, 5-0 against teams with winning home records, 4-0 after a straight up win, in road games, and after scoring 100 points or more, 9-1-2 overall, 8-1-2 against Eastern Conference teams, 7-1-1 after a straight up win by 10 points or more, 12-3-1 after a cover, 1-4 after 3 or more days rest, 2-8-1 against Southeast teams, and 1-9-1 in Sunday games. The last 4 games in this series have gone over the total and the last six in Atlanta between the teams have also gone over. The underdog is 7-3-3 ATS  in this series recently.

Atlanta is 4-0-1 ATS after a cover, 4-1-1 after scoring 100 points or more, 3-1-2 against Southeast teams, 22-8-1 against teams with winning records, 5-2-1 on one day rest, 7-3 against teams with losing road records, 15-7-1 after a straight up win of  more than 10 points, 2-6-1 overall and against Eastern Conference teams, 2-11-1 in second round games, and 0-3-1 in Sunday games. The Hawks are 4-0-1 ATS against the Wizards recently.

The Wizards certainly have the advantage when it comes to rest, but as the Hawks can attest too much rest can quickly turn to rust. If you go by their results in the first round, Washington seems the sharper team. However, the Hawks dominated the series in the regular season. I think Atlanta wins the series in six games, and wins game one by a comfortable margin.

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