The Atlanta Hawks looked like first-round fodder, but after holding serve against the Washington Wizards they might be the right NBA pick for Wednesday’s Game 5. Or maybe not.
I’ll be honest with you: I thought the Atlanta Hawks were toast. We’ve been giving Atlanta the side-eye all year, putting 'under' 43.5 wins in our NBA picks for their regular-season win total – and just barely cashing in when they went 43-39 (39-43 ATS). Then the Hawks lost the first two games of their opening-round series with the Washington Wizards, SU and ATS as 5.5-point road dogs.
Nevertheless, they persisted. Atlanta came back to win the next two games SU and ATS at home, setting up Game 5 Wednesday (6 p.m. ET, TNT). The Hawks are still getting the same 5.5 points on the NBA odds board, but now we have to reconsider our stance on the Dirty South. Hmmmm ...
How about some statistical analysis? FiveThirtyEight has an Elo-based spread of Washington -6 for this bad boy, so there might be a smidge of value remaining on the Wiz. But Elo is fundamentally a season-based metric, and it doesn’t know that Ian Mahinmi (+0.8 BPM) has missed this entire series with a strained left calf.
Washington’s only premium defender (+2.9 DBPM) might suit up in Game 5, though. It’s hard to tell as we go to press, but if Mahinmi can go, the Wizards won’t have to worry quite as much about getting destroyed in the paint like they did in Games 3 and 4. He’s enough of a difference-maker to recommend the Wiz at these odds.
If Ian Mahinmi can simply walk before game five he has $64 million reasons to suit up and contribute 6 fouls. #Wizards— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) April 25, 2017
In theory. This being the NBA, we generally recommend waiting until the shootaround so you can find out who’s active and who isn’t. Barring any other developments, if you see Mahinmi is ready for combat and the odds are still the same (or less chalky for the Wiz), feel free to pull the trigger. Otherwise, we can only recommend the slightest of leans on Washington; note that our early consensus reports at SBR show a 50-50 split in support for Game 5.