NBA Playoffs Picks: Bet Hawks -5 In Series Opener Against Celtics

Friday, April 15, 2016 6:46 PM GMT

Let’s examine the L10 meetings in this series, weigh any trends and provide a logical NBA pick from our findings in this extremely important Hawks vs. Celtics game.

The new-wave Boston Celtics and talented Head Coach Brad Stevens open up the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Home on Saturday evening on the non-parqueted-floors of TD Garden in Boston where speedy George Teague and the Atlanta Hawks are in town for the weekend (and then some) for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (First Round) series, a huge game for both with the Homecourt always up for grabs in Game 1's and 2's and a deadly Loss for the hosts and higher-seeds when it happens.

Odds Overview
Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics [Sunday 00:05] (ESPN, WatchESPN, CSN-New England, Directv 706 (US), BT Sport 1 (UK), 7:05 p.m. EDT/4:05 p.m. PDT): Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas and the No. 5-seed Boston Celtics (48-34 SU, 21-20 Away) open the doors of TD Garden in Boston on Saturday afternoon to face Al Horford, Paul Millsap and the Atlanta Hawks (48-34 SU, 27-14 Home) in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Playoffs First Round series.

Oddsmakers have opened up the host Celtic as 5-point favorites (Bookmaker) in this game with the Total (Points) opening up at 204½ (Bookmaker). The Money Line (Winner) NBA odds see host Boston priced at -208 (Pinnacle) with the visiting Hawks lined at +186 on the takeback as the logical Game 1 Road underdog.

Atlanta Hawks
The 5th-seeded Atlanta Hawks (42-39-1 ATS, 20-20-1 ATS Away) and Head Coach Mike Budenholzer have an ideal chance to seal away the Home-court Advantage here in Game 1 on Saturday in Beantown, but the Hawks will have to take the Crowd out of the game, and keep them out of the game as an extra Noise and Momentum here in this series opener could lead to spurts and runs and like 6 points from nothing. In his usual Starting Lineup for the Hawks (+7500 to win NBA championship, BetVictor), Budenholzer has C Al Horford (13.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg)—who could create a mismatch here against the C's C's with either Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger when they're in—PF Paul Millsap (14.9 ppg, 9.0 rpg), SF Kent Bazemore (11.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg), SG Kyle Korver (9.2 ppg) and PG Jeff Teague (15.7 ppg, 5.9 apg).

The key Hawks Reserves are G Dennis Schroeder (11.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg), F Thabo Sefolosha (6.4 ppg), G Tim Hardaway Jr. (6.4 ppg), PF Mike Scott (6.7 ppg), PF Kris Humphries, PF Mike Muscala and maybe even SG Kirk Hinrich if he can get a hot hand early and show that he deserves the Playing Time. Korver will need to produce around 4-6 points more per game, pleasant surprise Schroeder will have to be at his best for Atlanta to thrive here, but these two teams are close as it gets (statistically) of the 16 teams who will start playing serious basketball in the NBA Postseason.

The Hawks should have the edge underneath in the Frontcourt with the Big Men while the Celtics will have the edge in the Backcourt with a potential Bradley-Korver matchup a weird and troublesome one for Atlanta (+1600 to win Eastern Conference, Betfair). On the Injury watch for the Hawks (102.8 AF-99.2 AA), who really clamped down Defensively at the end of the Regular Season—trimming over 1.0 ppg off their AA while keeping their AF where it was—is their backup C Tiago Splitter (Hip) who required and has been Out for the Season as well as Hardway Jr. (Hamstring) who is listed as Questionable for Saturday but this being Game 1 of the series, that “Questionable” status itself seems a little questionable. As you were, Manuel.

Boston Celtics
The 4th-seeded Boston Celtics (42-39-1 ATS, 23-17-1 ATS Home) and Head Coach Brad Stevens lost 118-107 to the upstart Hawks in Atlanta just a week ago (April 9) at the Phillips Center as the Hawks used a strong 2nd Half to earn the victory and then overtake the C's for the 3rd spot in the conference. In his usual starting lineup, Boston (+2000 to win Eastern Conference, William Hill) Head Coach Stevens—a product of Butler University in Indianapolis—usually has C Jared Sullinger (10.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg), PF Amir Johnson (7.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg), SF Jae Crowder (14.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg), SG Avery Bradley (15.2 ppg, 5.9 apg) and breakout PG Isiah Thomas (22.2 ppg, 6.2 apg) with a very impressive bench of Evan Turner (10.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.4 apg), PG Marcus Smart (9.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg), C Kelly Olynyk (10.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg), PF Jonas Jerebko (4.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and C Tyler Zeller (6.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg).

So Boston (+8000 to win NBA championship, Ladbrokes) is pretty deep, but still fairly Young and still growing as a team and will need Sullinger, Crowder, Bradley, Turner and Smart to all play like they can to end up eliminating the Hawks in this First Round series. When on, the C's are dangerous, but like many teams in professional Sports, they seem to be a much better team at Home (28-13, +15) than they are on the Road (20-21, -1). The still very young and growing Celtics (105.7 PF-102.5 PA) have no Injuries to report heading in here and will need to crash the Boards and not let Horford, Millsap and Bazemore control the Paint.

Thoughts, Trends, Streaks, Recent Relevant Series Information and Upset Pick
As mentioned, these teams are (statistically) as close as it gets with both going 6-4 SU in their L10 to finish at 48-34 SU and 42-39-1 ATS on the Regular Season, Boston finishing 28-13 at Home and Atlanta 27-14 at Home and the Celtics at a +3.6 Point Differential (PD) while the Hawks are at +3.2 PD. In the L10 meetings in this series, Atlanta is 5-4 ATS and has W3 and is also 7-3 SU. So this Atlanta (5-32 ATS L7 vs Atlantic Division) team knows how to handle Boston and has W2 of the L4 trips here to Beantown making the Celtics -5 odds (Pinnacle) seem a bit high, especially for a Game 1 and with Atlanta confident after just beating the Celtics just 7 days ago, albeit in Atlanta (5-1 ATS L6 Playing on 2+ Days Rest, 4-1 ATS L5 Saturdays).

Some Trends that support backing Boston in this spot: Atlanta is 2-6 ATS L8 Overall, 2-5 ATS L7 vs Eastern Conference, 1-4 ATS L5 After ATS Loss, 1-4 ATS L5 After SU Loss and 0-5 ATS after Allowing 100+ Previous Game. Also, the Celtics are 5-2 ATS L7 vs Eastern Conference and 15-7 ATS their L22 on Saturdays. But there are also a large number of anti-Celtics Trends heading in here with Boston 2-14 ATS L16 on the Road Playing a Team with a Home Winning Percentage of .600+, 0-7 ATS L7 Playing on 2+ Days Rest, 3-14 ATS L17 Road Team with Winning Record at Home, 3-7 ATS L10 Overall and 3-7 ATS L10 vs Team with SU Winning Record, 2-5 ATS L7 Following ATS as well as a SU Win, 1-5 ATS L5 Following SU Win, 1-5 ATS L6 Road Games and the biggie: The Celtics are an anemic 1-4 ATS L5 Conference Quarterfinal (First Round) games. Time to grow up you little Leprechauns. And real fast.

Some Totals Trends: The Under is 4-1 ATS L5 Hawks games Overall, 7-3 the L10 Hawks After SU Loss, 5-1 the L6 Hawks games vs Teams with a Winning Record, 11-3 the L14 Celtics games following a SU Win and 5-2 the L7 Celtics dribbles when an Opponent has Allowed 100+ in Previous Game as well as going an impressive 16-5 over the L21 Celtics Conference Quarterfinal (First Round) Playoff Games. The Over only has a couple of major Trends going for it: The Over is 9-3 the L12 Hawks vs Atlantic Division and 7-3 in the L10 Celtics games vs a Team with a Winning Record.

The big things here will be the Rebounding and the Crowd. If Atlanta can dominate the Glass and loose ball both on the Defensive and Offensive ends of the court down low through Horford, the powerful Millsap and Bazemore, then the Hawks could very well win this Game 1 (Moneyline +186, Pinnacle) and quickly steal the Home-court Advantage. And with their edge in Maturity, their chances are good but this team will need good performances from starter Korver and Reserve Schroeder here to get the W.

And with all the pressure on Boston, it's best not to back them as an NBA pick for right now. This is a game in which Atlanta will need to keep the Crowd from helping provide Energy through Noise in any big runs as they did in the Regular Season finale night rally to beat the Heat to pull off the upset. Game 2 (TNT) of this series will be played on Tuesday here in Boston while the series moves to Atlanta for Game 3 (April 22, ESPN2) and Game 4 (April 24, TNT). If necessary, Game 5 will be played back here at the TD Garden in Boston (April 26), a Game 6 would be in Atlanta (April 28) and a potential magical Game 7 (April 30, TNT) would be back in Boston.

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FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Hawks 105 Celtics 99
NBA PLAYOFFS SATURDAY PICK: Hawks -5 (Pinnacle)
NBA ASSIGNMENTS PICKS RECORD THIS WEEK: 2-2