NBA Finals Odds: Watch Out for Atlanta Hawks After Upsetting Bucks

The Atlanta Hawks NBA Finals odds are still long at online sportsbooks. Here’s why basketball bettors might be undervaluing Trae Young & Co. going forward in the playoffs.

Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks got the first punch. Cashing Andy Means’ expert pick, which was exclusive to SAO Premium members, Young became the first player in NBA history to score 45 points and 10 assists in a conference finals game.

The historic performance helped the Hawks win a close battle, on the road no less, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks 116-13 in Game 1.

Atlanta went into Milwaukee as 8-point underdogs, closer to +300 on the moneyline, but walked out with the same confidence they’ve shown all NBA Playoffs, pulling road upset after road upset.

Are the Hawks legitimate title contenders, though? With only four teams remaining, it seems like a silly question to posit. However, sportsbooks listed them with mere +1100 NBA Final odds before Game 1 tipped off, giving them an 8.3% implied probability, and they had the longest odds to win the Finals prior to the Clippers dropping their first two games of the Western Conference Finals

Shortly after Atlanta’s three-point victory, oddsmakers at BetMGM shortened their price to +750. One data point from an economist at George Mason University suggests there might be more expected value than meets the eye.

NBA Finals: Odds In Hawks’, Suns’ Favor?

Eastern Conference Finals Odds

Two weeks ago, Dr. Tyler Cowen wrote in a blog post: “It is hard to avoid noticing that last year’s finalists — Miami and the Lakers — both exited this year in the first round, and ignominiously.  Injuries and fatigue were part of the reason why.”

Three games into the NBA conference finals and Cowen looks like he’s onto something.

Both the Suns and Hawks missed the 2020 playoffs, which were played inside a bubble at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. They’re now a combined 3-0 in the conference finals matchups, against teams who played deep into the playoffs last season.

The pandemic forced Adam Silver’s hand and the league opted for a quick turnaround after dealing with unprecedented circumstances. 2020 Finals teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, were given only a 71-game offseason as a result. According to research from the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the shortest turnaround for professional teams in the history of the four major sports.

Fast forward to the 2021 NBA Playoffs and both the Lakers and Heat were knocked out in Round 1.

As Cowen points out, this deviates from the trends we’ve seen in previous seasons. “Usually of course playoff performance is positively correlated from one year to the next.”

Value on Hawks Against the Spread, and NBA Finals Odds?

Despite their victory, DraftKings Sportsbook opened the Hawks as large underdogs again for Game 2. The Bucks are 7.5-point favorites, with another steep moneyline price of -350 to win outright. If you’re thinking about backing Giannis Antetkounmpo and the Bucks, I’d be careful. Don’t forget about the above phenomenon.

It’s a small sample, but it’s getting larger. And there’s only a limited number of games left for NBA bettors to take advantage of this observation.

Those looking to ride the rave have a few ways of doing so. They can either bet against the spread, take the money, and/or lock in futures prices for the Hawks, such as their current NBA Finals odds.

Hawks Odds: Game 2 & Futures

What’s your favorite Atlanta Hawks bet going forward? Do you buy the notion that the unusually condensed season creates value on them and the Suns in the betting market? Are their NBA Finals odds worth betting on?