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Hawks vs. Nets: The Handicapper's Look

The Hawks and Nets tip things off on Sunday evening, but before the series begins, we take a look at the handicapping side of the action.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 NBA Playoffs are upon us, and there are plenty of angles to cover. Naturally, the Atlanta Hawks take precedent in this space, and we have wall-to-wall coverage of the upcoming series against the Brooklyn Nets.

However, there is an additional segment of the sporting population with an eye on this series for another reason.

Handicapping.

The Hawks enter the series as a significant favorite by every Vegas and off-shore outlet, but there are still opportunities to exploit some (sometimes small) inaccuracies in the line. With that, here is a look at the available lines, with a couple of recommendations that are almost assuredly flawed in nature. Alas, I’ll try my best.

Exact result - Hawks in 4 (+250) or Hawks in 5 (+160)

Line via Bovada.lv

I believe that the most likely scenario is Atlanta in 5 games, and Vegas appears to agree. You may not be able to find the 5-game wager at +160 in every place, but if you can grab it. The "gentleman's sweep" must occur 39% of the time for this to be profitable bet long term, but if you feel like taking the safest option, Hawks in 5 is the one.

For me, I love the sweep possibility. The Hawks must win all four games 29% of the time for this to be the "right side", but if you are as confident as some Atlanta fans that I've seen (and rightly so), you may want to flex that muscle in predicting a sweep.

Total Games in Series - Under 5.5 (-160)

Line via Bovada.lv

In the vein of the previous two bets, you can effectively hedge by simply betting the under 5.5 total games. You're laying juice, which most people don't like to do, but there is also the added benefit of the insurance in case (by some miracle) Brooklyn dominates the series in their own right. I like this one.

Exact result - Brooklyn in 6 (+1800)

Line via Bovada.lv

Okay, this isn't fun to discuss, but if you like the Nets, this is your best value.

Atlanta would be a heavy favorite in a Game 7 at Philips Arena, so if this series gets that far, best of luck to the Nets. This only has to take place 5% of the time to be profitable, and while I honestly don't think it would be, you may act on your own accord.

"Traditional" series price: Hawks (-1200) vs. Nets (+750)

Line via Sportsbook.ag

Honestly, this is a stay-away spot unless you can find something else to parlay the Hawks with that will significantly shorten the odds. Personally, I can’t fathom a scenario where the Nets win this series, barring significant injury on the Atlanta side, but +750 isn’t enough value on Brooklyn (even on an emotional hedge) and laying -1200 on anything isn’t advisable unless you own a professional bankroll. If you can find -1000 or below on the Hawks, fire away, but I don’t see that happening.

Hawks to win Eastern Conference (+400)

Hawks to win NBA Championship (+1700)

Lines via Sportsbook.ag

There will be available lines on both of these wagers during the series and after round one, but given the popular nature of futures, we’ve gotta address this. Atlanta at +400 to win the East is enticing, especially with the Toronto/Washington matchup in Round 1, but for me, I would wait until the Hawks reach the conference finals (if they do), and simply wager on Atlanta’s series price against Cleveland (sure to be at least +200).

On the title front, +1700 is a fantastic line in my opinion. No, that does not mean that I would pick the Hawks to win the title outright or wager a large amount on this number, but Mike Budenholzer and company only have to win the title about 6% of the time in order to make this bet worth the price. I feel confident in saying that if you ran these playoffs 100 times, the Atlanta Hawks would claim the title more than six times.

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As the playoffs get underway (or even as the series gets closer to tip off on Sunday evening), there could be some value available in player and/or team props, so keep an eye out. More than anything, this type of "action" is for the non-Hawks fan that wants or needs something on the game in order to focus, but if you’re a diehard, you probably don’t need additional motivation to root for victories on a nightly basis. To the degenerates and fans alike, best of luck.