How NBA bettors will want to wager Knicks vs. Hawks

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It’s been a strange week in the Tuley’s Takes home office. The NBA regular season wrapped up with a lot of drama regarding the new play-in tournament, and the NHL started its playoffs even though regular-season games were still being played. Strange, indeed.

However, most of our focus was on the Preakness, the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown. It was run under a cloud of controversy after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit had a positive drug test, trainer Bob Baffert blamed everyone and everything (including “cancel culture”) except himself and the colt was allowed to run in the Preakness after being subjected to more tests. I’ve never seen so many people openly cheering against a Derby winner in the Preakness.

Now we can concentrate on the NBA and NHL playoffs, even though I’m still looking for live MLB underdogs on a daily basis and betting the White Sox on the run line against left-handed starters as they’re 24-2 SU in their past 26 games vs. lefties and 22-4 on the run line, many at plus prices.

The Stanley Cup playoffs saw the first three games go to overtime (all three won by the underdogs). Favorites bounced back by going 3-0 on Monday, 2-0 on Tuesday (with Lightning-Panthers closing pick ’em) and 3-1 on Wednesday to take a 9-4 lead with one pick ’em. Home teams were also 8-6 entering Thursday night’s action. Note that the series are moving to Games 3 and 4 with the lower-seeded teams having home-ice advantage, so this can lead to more upsets.

We’ll spend the rest of our time together on the NBA playoffs.

Hawks at Knicks

Game 1 (Sunday): Knicks -1.5
Series: Hawks -110/Knicks -110

Julius Randle
Julius Randle
Getty Images

The Knicks exceeded all expectations as they were 13-1 just to make the playoffs and have had a historically great season at 45-26-1 ATS (63.4 percent). They’re also 22-13-1 ATS (62.9 percent) at home, so it’s hard to fade them in the first two games at Madison Square Garden. However, I’ll be taking the Knicks as road underdogs in this series. The Knicks swept the Hawks 3-0 during the regular season. Admittedly, the Hawks are playing better now, but they’ve never had an answer for Julius Randle, who scored 28, 44 and 40 points in the three meetings for an average of 37.3. The Hawks are also tough to fade at home as they won 19 of their past 21 at State Farm Arena, but the fact the Hawks are favored in the series at some sportsbooks tells us that they’ll be bigger favorites in their home games. We’re hoping to get about four points, which gives us more wiggle room to cover in what should be close games. Besides, the Knicks were just as good on the road at 23-13 ATS (63.9 percent).

Best Bets: Knicks plus points in Games 3 and 4.

Heat at Bucks

Game 1 (Saturday): Bucks -5
Series: Bucks -275/Heat +225

This is also an intriguing series as the Bucks, with a recent history of postseason disappointments after strong regular seasons, look for revenge after the Heat upset them in five games on the way to the NBA Finals. The Bucks won the season series 2-1 by splitting games on back-to-back days last December in Miami and then routing the Heat 122-108 on Saturday in Milwaukee. Jimmy Butler sat out that game with a sore back and in fact missed all three games against the Bucks this season. Assuming he’s able to go, I love the Heat in this series. This is basically the same team that made its run as a No. 5 seed.

Best Bets: Heat +5 in Game 1 and any game as underdog.

Mavericks at Clippers

Game 1 (Saturday): Clippers -5
Series: Clippers -375/Mavericks +300

Do you have a team you love to bet because you know it has the potential to be better, but it keeps letting you down? The Mavericks are that team for me. I love Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis and think they pose matchup problems for anyone, but they seem to always underperform — at least when I back them! They were 42-30 SU this season and only 35-37 ATS as another example. The Clippers obviously pose a challenge, but let’s give the Mavs another shot at least to start the series. If they fail to cover the first two games, I’ll probably give up on them.

Best Bets: Mavericks +5 in Game 1 and again in Game 2.

Trail Blazers at Nuggets

Game 1 (Saturday): Nuggets -1
Series: Blazers -120/Nuggets Even

This series is similar to the Hawks-Knicks, with the higher-seeded team being favored at home in Game 1 and the lower-seeded team favored in the series. It’s harder for me to separate these teams as I see it as a pick ’em and don’t want to fall into the cliche “take either team if getting points,” though it is a way to fade the betting public. So I’ll watch the early games in the series and see if I pick up anything to give me an edge later in the series.

Best Bets: Pass for now.

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