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Hawks vs. Celtics: The Handicapper's Look

The Hawks and Celtics begin their series on Saturday, and if you need a little bit of extra incentive, we have you covered.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Playoffs are mercifully upon us. The end of the regular season (at least until game 82 and the fireworks from Wednesday) is never terribly entertaining from a perspective of on-court performance, but things ratchet up from an intensity standpoint when the postseason arrives, and that is always riveting for the viewer.

In addition to that, there may be some folks that are looking to have a bit of additional incentive when watching the playoffs. Some (or even most) fans of the Atlanta Hawks probably don't need more motivation to cheer on the team against the Boston Celtics and beyond, but if you are that person who likes to handicap basketball for personal gain, we are here to try to help.

In this space, we will take a look at three approaches to putting your hard-earned jelly beans to good use, ranging from reckless to aggressive to basic. Let's get weird.

Note: All stated lines come from unless otherwise noted.

If you're feeling frisky...

Hawks to win the NBA Championship (+10000) OR Hawks to win the Eastern Conference (+1400 on Bovada)

I think we can acknowledge here that the Hawks helping you cash either of these tickets would be pretty unlikely. Atlanta has been playing lights-out basketball for a couple of months, but in terms of the NBA title, the Hawks would have to dethrone the Warriors (or the Spurs) after knocking off Cleveland and another contender (Toronto?) in the Eastern Conference Finals.

There is a reason these odds are so high.

With that said, there could be some value to extract here, if you are willing to hedge. 100-to-1 seems pretty high with regard to the Hawks winning the title, so if you think Atlanta gets past Boston in round one, you could theoretically hedge your action with a look at the other side in each of the next few series. Just a thought.

If you're feeling like a genius...

Hawks in 7 +300 OR Hawks in 5 +350 OR Celtics in 6 +400

Sometimes, you have a feeling about exactly what will transpire in a series.

The Hawks have homecourt advantage in round one, meaning that the conventional wisdom indicates Atlanta "should" win in either five or seven games, finishing off Boston at Philips Arena. If you think the Hawks will basically dominate, there could be some value in a wager on the Hawks to win in exactly five games. If you think Atlanta and Boston are evenly matched and that homecourt will decide the series, a 3-to-1 inkling on Hawks in 7 is your ticket.

Or, if you're a masochist and think Boston wins.... Celtics in 6 seems like the choice.

If you're feeling like a fan...

Hawks over Celtics (-150)

This is the easy one, at least from a perspective of understanding.

If the Hawks beat the Celtics in the first round, you win. It's that simple. The problem (if you think it is a problem) is that Atlanta is seen as the favorite, meaning you have to bet 150 theoretical dollars in order to bring home a windfall of 100 theoretical dollars. Given that "normal" juice in these situations is 110 to win 100, you need to be pretty confident in Atlanta bringing home the victory to pull the trigger here.