Experienced bettors know that when you see a line that is convincingly off of what your numbers and/or predictions expect there are either two plans of attack. The first is to hammer it like there's no tomorrow in an effort to prove that your analysis is in this case better than the bookies. The other is to be wary of falling into an obvious trap bet.
The Hawks and Wizards matchup seems like one of those situations. At first glance the series price seems “hammerable” but when you step back and think it makes you wonder just what the Bovada Bookies know that we don't.
If there's one thing about the Eastern Conference it's that there are basically four teams that could legitimately make the Finals – and then everybody else. While conventionally a #4/#5 matchup would be one of the best opportunities to wager on a slight underdog, Atlanta vs. Washington represents the continental divide between the Eastern Conference Elite...and the leftovers.
Sure the two teams were only separated by 6 games in the standings but that's a much bigger number than it looks. The Wizards will have home court advantage where they were 30-11 this season. The Hawks may have turned things around a bit winning 4 of their last 5 games but they're not too far removed from the team that lost 9 of 11 up through April 2nd.
The biggest shocker in this series is the oddsmakers' line. Washington -200 is the lowest odds in the entire NBA playoffs for a series that seems like a foregone conclusion that the Wizards advance. Not only is Washington the better overall team, they matched up great against Atlanta this season winning all three games. If there's any value in Atlanta +175, it's not abundantly available. The totals for this series should also be interesting to watch. All three matchups this season went under, and that's only expected to stay consistent as NBA playoff basketball tightens up a bit.
When an individual game looks like this much of a line mistake, you tend to bet it hesitantly. When it's an entire series, however (that doesn't come down to a meaningless last second half-court shot for a backdoor cover) you go big on the confident lean.
Take the Wizards and (at the risk of upsetting the gambling hierarchy) take them big.