With a tenacious defense and aggressive style of play, the Indiana Pacers have been touted as the type of team that could give the Miami Heat some trouble if they found their stride at the right time.
They'll look to start finding that stride in the 3 vs. 6 series against the Atlanta Hawks, a team they have struggled against with a 4-10 ATS in 14 meetings.
Indiana won both of its home games against Atlanta this season and will look to do the same in the series opener on Sunday. Indiana is a 7-point favorite and the total is set at 184.5 points. However, bettors have been nervous to back the Pacers as favorites, as they have lost seven in a row ATS in that role.
Indiana finished the season with a 49-32 SU and 42-39 ATS record, good enough to lock up the Central Division over the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls. The Pacers haven't done much to instill any confidence in bettors in April, heading into the playoffs on a 1-5 SU and 0-6 ATS run.
While the slow finish didn't turn any heads, the Pacers should be able to turn it back on now that the games are meaningful again. Indiana is going off at 25/1 to win the NBA championship.
The Atlanta Hawks gutted their team this offseason in an attempt to move in a different direction, so to some degree just making the playoffs could be considered a success. Atlanta finished the regular season with a 44-38 SU and 37-43-2 ATS record, but isn't considered a real threat to do any damage in the postseason, going off at 125/1 to win the championship. [ Full Hawks vs Pacers preview ]
Like Indiana, Atlanta enters the postseason cold on a 2-5 SU and ATS run over its last seven games.
In recent years, Atlanta has done quite well against Indiana with a 13-4 SU and 12-5 ATS record over the last 17 meetings between these two teams. These stats should be taken with a grain of salt since Atlanta has gone through some big changes. But the Hawks are 11-0 SU and 9-2 ATS in their last 11 home games against the Pacers, including two home wins this season.
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