NBA Playoff Betting Trends: #1 Chicago Bulls vs. #5 Atlanta Hawks

Last Updated: May 1st, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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The Chicago Bulls never really had all that much of an issue getting into the second round of the playoffs, and they’re hoping that they can run just as easily into the Eastern Conference Finals as well. The Atlanta Hawks are standing in their way though, and this could make for a great series for NBA picks.

NBA Series Prices
Chicago -800 vs. Atlanta +550 @ Oddsmaker Sportsbook
Chicago -900 vs. Atlanta +600 @ SportBet Sportsbook
Chicago -900 vs. Atlanta +550 @ BetUS Sportsbook

Series Trends and History
The Hawks know that they have their work cut out for them in this series, but they do have some good news on their side. They really did play well in the first NBA betting battle of the year against the Bulls, winning 83-80 at home. However, these two teams met twice more in the month of March, and neither of those meetings went all that well, with Chicago winning 94-76 and 114-81. In both cases, the Bulls went on one massive push that was able to just destroy the spirit of the Hawks.

More good news for the Hawks: They’re 7-3 ATS over the course of the last 10 meetings in this series, and they have won seven of those 10 outright as well. The bad news is that Atlanta is just 0-7-1 ATS over the course of the last two times that they were in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Chicago is 6-1 ATS in its last seven against the Southeast Division, but it is just 1-7 ATS in its last eight games against teams with a losing road record.

Keys to the Series
Key 1: Health – Obviously, staying healthy is a big time key in any series, but both teams suffered what could be catastrophic losses in the close out games of their respective series at home last week. Kirk Hinrich was knocked out for the Hawks with a hamstring strain an injury which is likely to at least have him sidelined against one of his former teams for at least the first game in this series. On the other side, Carlos Boozer has a toe injury that he suffered after scoring just two points in Game 5 against the Indiana Pacers. He is listed as probable, but Head Coach Tom Thibodeau knows that Boozer might be limited in what he can do with this injury.

Key 2: The Early Lead – We know that in the NHL playoffs, the team that has scored the first goal has gone on to win a slew of games. No, we’re not saying that the team scoring the first basket ends up winning most of the NBA playoffs betting affairs, but we do know that NBA picks in this series will revolve around which team gets the early edge. For Atlanta, the trick is just going to be staying close. In games that it either stuck close or got out to the early lead against the Orlando Magic, it went 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS. The one game that it did, it was absolutely blown to bits. The Bulls know that these Hawks are generally a lazy bunch that gives up after falling behind early. The hope that Chicago has is that it can step on Atlanta’s throat early and often in this series to take away all of its fight.

Key 3: Controlling the Paint – Atlanta absolutely cannot let this series turn into a knock down, drag out series, or it is going to be in a heck of a lot of trouble. The Hawks really showed nothing on the inside against Dwight Howard, as “Superman” had one heck of a series for the Magic. Carlos Boozer, even if he is injured, Luol Deng, and Joakim Noah have to absolutely be licking their chops about the prospects of going against Zaza Pachulia and the likes. Instead, Atlanta has to make this an outside, in series and not an inside, out one. Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson have to be knocking down shots from the outside to try to keep the pressure off of the bigs in the middle. If it doesn’t happen, this really could be an incredibly short series, as Chicago won’t make mistakes in a game based on the glass.

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Posted in NBA Basketball - Last Updated on Sunday, May 1st, 2011 @ 3:06 pm (EST)
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