Videos by OutKick
The 2-seed Boston Celtics (57-25) were crushing foes in the beginning of the season and looked like a sure-fire 1-seed. The Bucks ran them down but the Celtics have the 2nd-best odds at DraftKings Sportsbook to win the NBA title (+310).
Their 1st-round opponent, 7-seed Atlanta Hawks (41-41), dismantled the 8th-place Miami Hawks 116-105 Tuesday to clinch its playoff berth. Atlanta is the example of mediocrity. From Jan. 14 on, the Hawks were never 1-game below or above .500.
Boston swept Atlanta 3-0 straight up and against the spread (ATS) in their regular-season series, winning 126.7-113.3 on average. One of those Hawks-Celtics meetings don’t really count since both sat a bunch of starters.
Hawks vs. Celtics Odds (DraftKings)
- Hawks (+650)
- Celtics (-1000)
- Hawks +1.5 (+300)
- Celtics -1.5 (-450)
If the Hawks play as hard as they did in the play-in game, they can beat anyone in the NBA. Atlanta out-scored Miami in the fastbreak, in the paint, off of turnovers and off of 2nd-chances Tuesday.
However, in a 7-game series, the Hawks don’t have a shot to upset the Celtics because Atlanta is 22nd in defensive rating. It’s really that simple; Boston can get stops and Atlanta cannot.
Hawks wing De’Andre Hunter hasn’t developed into the defensive stopper Atlanta hoped we would. Even if Hunter did, he wouldn’t have enough help for Celtics’ All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
That’s a big reason why Boston has beaten and covered vs. Atlanta in five straight meetings. More importantly, the Celtics have a much better shot profile than the Hawks. Boston is 6th in wide-open 3-point-attempt rate and Atlanta is 27th.
According to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), the Celtics are 12th in offensive shot quality and 3rd defensively. While the Hawks are 27th offensively and 29th in defensive shot quality.
Prediction: Boston 4-2
All that being said, if had to bet any series-long odds it would be the Hawks’ +2.5 series spread at +130 because the Celtics are overrated by the market.
What keeps me going from the window to make this bet is Atlanta’s trash defense and the fact that none of last postseason’s 1st-round series went past Game 6.
Boston swept the Brooklyn Nets in the 1st-round of the NBA 2022 playoffs and that Nets team was much better than this Hawks club. Plus I’ve lost money betting on or against the Celtics all season and I’m gun-shy.
Hawks at Celtics, Game 1
- Tip-off: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET at TD Garden in Boston.
- Season Series: Celtics won 3-0 straight up and against the spread (ATS) and the totals were 2-1 Over/Under (O/U).
It’s a square play but I cannot help but look to the OVER 230.5 (-110) in Game 1 of the Hawks-Celtics series. Atlanta is going to push the pace and Boston will go along because why wouldn’t it? The Hawks cannot stop the Celtics.
I’ve said this a million times but I hate the way Hawks PG Trae Young plays basketball. He is a high-usage, annoying little flopper that found a cheat-code to get him All-Star-caliber stats.
However, I really liked how he and Atlanta looked in the play-in game. Every Hawk was getting touches and they got good looks vs. a Miami defense that usually stifles Atlanta’s offense.
Furthermore, the Hawks run the most pick-and-roll (PnR) action through ball handlers, especially Young. Surprisingly, the Celtics have a below-average PnR defensive efficiency vs. ball handlers.
This kind of confirms things I’ve heard Boston superfan Bill Simmons say when discussing the Celtics on his podcast. That is Boston and PG Marcus Smart aren’t as good defensively as last season. Say what you will about Simmons, he knows the Celtics.
Also, Atlanta’s offense spends a lot of time in the areas where Boston’s defense is vulnerable. Per CTG, the Hawks attempts the 2nd-highest volume of mid-range jumpers and the Celtics are 21st in defensive field goal percentage vs. mid-range field goals.
Lastly, the O/U trends in Hawks-Celtics support a play on the OVER 230.5 (-110). As home favorites, Boston is 24-14-1 O/U with a +5.1 O/U margin this season. Atlanta is 25-17 O/U on the road with a +2.9 O/U margin.
BET: Over 230.5 in Hawks-Celtics (-110), up to 231
OutKick Bets Podcast: NBA Playoff 2023 Betting Primer Ft. David Troy
Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.
First-time DraftKings users can get up to a $1,000 deposit bonus and receive a 20% first deposit match up to $1,000 when they sign up. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.