The Atlanta Hawks went on the road and beat the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The betting market was not impressed.
The Hawks will take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, and there’s some sticker shock for the series odds.
The Bucks are -500 at BetMGM to win the series, which is not the type of line you’ll see often in a conference finals. That gives the Bucks 83.3 percent implied odds to win the series.
That doesn’t give the Hawks, who are +375 to win the series, much respect.
Hawks have been playing very well
In late April, two bets were placed at BetMGM on the Hawks. One was to win the Eastern Conference, the other was to win the NBA Finals, and the two matching $10,000 bets would win $2 million. It was an oddity at the time, but not as crazy as it looked if you had been watching the Hawks.
The Hawks’ record didn’t always indicate it, but they were pretty good this season. They started 14-20 with Lloyd Pierce as head coach, but went 27-11 after replacing him with Nate McMillan. They went on an eight-game winning streak right after the midseason coaching change and kept playing well. Their .711 winning percentage under McMillan would have been the best in the East over a full season. The Bucks, with their 83 percent implied odds to win this series, had a .639 winning percentage in the regular season. You can’t just ignore the Hawks’ 14-20 start, but it really wasn’t relevant to how they played after McMillan took over.
The Hawks have quality bigs, they can shoot and have a star in Trae Young. And they’re being given practically no chance to beat the Bucks, at least on the betting line.
Bucks are coming off huge win
The Bucks are coming off a huge upset of the Brooklyn Nets in the second round. The Nets were overwhelming favorites to win it all, then they caught some bad injury breaks and lost in overtime of Game 7.
Milwaukee is a good team. Giannis Antetokounmpo won two of the last three NBA MVPs and had a monster Game 7 at Brooklyn. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are big-time guards. The rest of the supporting cast is fine. But Milwaukee was still a No. 3 seed that was inconsistent in the regular season and needed overtime in Game 7 to beat a Nets team without Kyrie Irving and James Harden playing at far less than 100 percent. They aren’t as unbeatable as those -500 odds would indicate.
Not only are the Bucks favored, but the odds indicate it won’t be a long series. The Bucks -1.5 games in the series is -225 odds at BetMGM (or, put another way, the Bucks winning in six or fewer games). The Bucks -2.5 for the series is just +110. For Game 1, the Bucks are 7.5-point favorites.
The odds indicate this series will be a walkover for the Bucks, who haven’t reached the NBA Finals since 1974. The Hawks might have something to say about that.