Upset looming, or hype to high?
The Pacers have been just average since the All Star Break, and some are even questioning if they can get out of the second round. I think those people’s voices will grow even more prevalent as this series goes on, because the Hawks are a really bad matchup for the Pacers.
The NBA Odds reflect that, and even though this is the #1 versus #8 matchup, the Pacers are only -7 ½ NBA Odds favorites for Game 1 at home, with a total of 186 points. There are four other spreads this weekend that are as big, or bigger than -7 ½, and even though it looks like a nice value on Indiana, I’m on the complete opposite side.
The Hawks were 2-2 SU and 2-1-1 ATS versus the Pacers this regular season, and although you can’t read too much into that, it does speak to the matchup problems that the Pacers have with the Hawks. Paul Millsap is going to dominate David West, At this point in his career, West is not quick enough anymore to stay with Millsap, or guard him with Millsap facing up.
Pero Antic is going to pull Roy Hibbert away from the basket, which basically makes him a 7’2 perimeter defender. Also, Jeff Teague has been playing out of his mind recently, and the one position that the Pacers don’t defend well is the point guard spot. Teague should win his matchup versus George Hill, and all of this may mean the Pacers cannot play to their strengths on offense or defense.
The Sharp Pick
Atlanta also turned on their defense towards the end of the season, and it led to their playoff berth. They gave up only 95 points per game in their final ten, and if they can keep that switched on in the playoffs, they may be very profitable ATS during this series.
During that season ending run, the Hawks covered seven of their final eight games, including one against Indiana where they crushed them by almost 20 points. While I won’t go as far as to say the Hawks could win this series, I do think they can make it so the Pacers have to put forth a lot of energy to beat them.
Atlanta is coming into this game with nothing to lose. They weren’t even supposed to be here after they lost Al Horford again this season, and now they have a chance to knock off a team they have played pretty well against this year. This could be Atlanta’s one shot at convincing free agents to come there in the offseason. With Teague, Millsap and Horford, the Hawks have a great nucleus. If they can play the Pacers hard this series, it might just convince another good player to come join them to try and conquer the East next season.
However for this game and series, I think they are an excellent bet ATS in Game 1 against the Pacers.
My Pick: Hawks +7 ½