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Boston Celtics vs Atlanta Hawks NBA Playoff Odds, Picks & Predictions

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com

Mark Strotman  | 5 mins

Boston Celtics vs Atlanta Hawks NBA Playoff Odds, Picks & Predictions

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The defending Eastern Conference champions may not be the top seed, but they’re every bit a title contender as any team in the league. Their core from last year’s Finals group returns—with some extra firepower—and they now have the experience to back it up. 

They’ll have a Hawks team whose individual parts are greater than the sum. On paper, Atlanta should be better than 41-41. But the 22nd defense (the worst of any team in the postseason) isn’t going to get you far. They’ll need to be lights-out-good on offense to have any chance in this series.

RELATED: Trae Young Next Team Odds

Boston is as balanced as it gets on both ends—second in both offensive and defensive efficiency—and first in net rating. With apologies to Milwaukee, Denver, and any other team, the Celtics have an argument as the best team in the NBA. 

They also coasted to 126 and 134 points in two wins over the Hawks earlier this season (the third matchup was the last game of the year played by reserves—also a Celtics win).

One team is happy to be here—and Trae Young’s future with the franchise is unknown—and another wants to prove last year’s Finals team wasn’t a flash in the pan. We may see some high scores (more on that later) but this one could be over in short order if Atlanta doesn’t defend a little.

Celtics vs. Hawks Betting Tips

Jaylen Brown’s health is up in the air

He’s expected to play in Game 1, but Jaylen Brown missed the Celtics’ last two regular season games after cutting his hand cleaning up a broken vase in his house. Seriously. Boston is bigger than Brown, but they’re obviously better with their second-best player healthy and playing his allotted minutes.

We wonder if he may get off to a slow start in this one—while letting some of his teammates do the heavy lifting early. Something to consider on player props for NBA betting purposes.

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Don’t forget how good Trae Young can be

He has his warts, but Trae Young shows up when it matters most. Consider the 2021 postseason, when he led the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals while averaging 28.8 points and 9.5 assists. For all the flak he gets about his defense, let’s not overlook the 26 points and 10 assists he averaged this season in what was considered a “down year.” 

He’s got Dejounte Murray this time around—and plenty of finishers at the rim—so the potential exists for this offense to explode and make it a series.

Overs may reign supreme with two elite offenses

Oddsmakers at sports betting apps will take this into account, but these two offenses have been elite since the All-Star break. Atlanta ranks 4th and Boston ranks 5th, while Atlanta has the sixth-worst defense over that stretch. 

Boston will make life difficult on Young and Co. at the rim, but we think Atlanta will try to push tempo whenever it can—turning these games into track meets. We’ll be leaning toward the overs in this series. Two of three regular season matchups went over in this series.

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Celtics vs. Hawks Best Bet

Let’s not make this too difficult. There’s a reason why nine of the 11 worst defensive teams in the NBA are in the Lottery. One of the playoff teams is the Kings, who also had the most efficient offense in NBA history. The other is the Hawks.

We think the Celtics will have their pick of ways to dissect a Hawks defense that can’t stop anyone. The Celtics are on a mission. It’s just a one-series sample size, but the Celtics swept the Nets in Round 1 last year. The games were close, but they still got the job done. 

That’s where we’re leaning here. Because we don’t know Jaylen Brown’s health, we’ll go with the Celtics in five on Massachusetts betting apps, with the Hawks' offense exploding for one win in Atlanta. 

A gentleman’s sweep, while we inch closer to a Bucks-Celtics showdown, is what bettors should expect here.

Best Bet: Celtics In 5 Games at +185 with BetMGM


About the Author

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com
Mark Strotman
Mark is a veteran sports betting journalist who has covered the Bulls and the NBA since 2012. His work has appeared on ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, The Chicago Tribune and Yahoo Sports. He regularly provides NBA betting picks, as well as in-depth sportsbook reviews and the latest promo codes for all the major sports gambling operators, including Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel and more.