Julius Randle and the New York Knicks must beat the Atlanta Hawks if they want to survive. Can they beat the NBA odds as well?
Atlanta Hawks vs. New York Knicks
Wednesday, June 2, 2021 – 7:30 PM ET at Madison Square Garden
When we put the Atlanta Hawks in our NBA picks for Game 2 of their first-round matchup with the New York Knicks, we said it was anyone’s series to win. What a difference a week makes. The Hawks didn’t get the job done for us, losing 101-92 as 2-point road dogs, but they won the next two games at home by double digits to take a 3-1 lead and put the Knicks on the brink of elimination. Splendid.
Do we stick with our original pick now that the series has moved back to Madison Square Garden for Wednesday’s Game 5? We won’t get quite the same price; the Hawks are 1.5-point underdogs on the NBA odds board at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review) as we go to press. But they appear to have figured out how to beat New York, and the computers (some of them, at least) think they’ll do it again, so who are we to say differently?
Randle The Handle
Ah yes, the computers. Our friendly friends at FiveThirtyEight project Atlanta to win Wednesday’s contest by two points, so that leaves us plenty of room to fire a chunky bet at the Hawks. However, over at The USA Today, Jeff Sagarin has Atlanta rated about a half-point higher than the Knicks, so give New York 2.25 points for generic home-court advantage, and you get something pretty close to Knicks –1.5 for a kayfabe spread. Harrumph.
Good thing the online sportsbooks still put totals on their NBA lines. The first three games of this slugfest went Under, and they nearly made it four straight when Atlanta beat New York 113-96 (Over 208.5) in Game 4. It looks like the early action is on the Over for Game 5; Intertops (visit our Intertops Review) opened this bad boy at 207.5 points on Monday morning, then bumped it up to 208 about 20 minutes later. That still seems like a bargain price, considering this series began with totals of 214 and 213.5.
The thing is, as talented as these two teams are on defense, we can expect a bit more scoring in the long run. Aside from Atlanta’s 16-for-27 performance (59.3 percent) in Game 3, neither team has shot particularly well from behind the arc. Julius Randle, New York’s MVP and one of five Knick regulars to shoot over .400 this year at 41.1 percent, is just 8-of-24 from downtown this postseason. That’s bound to go up in the long run – and we already saw some positive regression when Randle hit two of his four trey attempts in Game 4. Let’s see if that insane crowd at the Garden can lift Randle and his teammates to new heights and get that total where we need it. It’s just the right thing to do.
NBA Pick: Over 208 (-110) at Intertops
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.