The Atlanta Hawks are being treated like guests at the Milwaukee Bucks' Eastern Conference championship party.
It's not really fair. The Hawks are a very good team but you'd never know it by the odds. The Hawks opened as 7.5-point underdogs at BetMGM for Game 1. The line moved, but not in the Hawks' way. The Bucks are currently 8-point favorites for the opening game of the Eastern Conference finals.
Nothing against the Bucks, but the odds for Game 1 and the series seem off. The numbers for Game 1 and the series aren't giving the Hawks enough respect.
The Bucks are -500 to win the series at BetMGM, which is a large number you won't see often this late in the playoffs. The Bucks knocked off the Brooklyn Nets, the heavy favorite to win the NBA Finals, but they also needed a couple of key injuries and still needed overtime in Game 7 to finish the series. They are a good team but so are the Hawks.
Atlanta was 27-11 after Nate McMillan took over as head coach during the season. They outplayed the New York Knicks in Round 1, then upset the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the second round. Since the coaching change — and for practical purposes we need to treat the McMillan Hawks like a new team — the Hawks split two games with the Bucks including a 111-104 win over Milwaukee on April 25. The Hawks have the size to disrupt Giannis Antetokounmpo and the shooting to steal a game or two as an underdog. If you watched the 76ers series, you know the Hawks are a capable and talented team. They have the firepower to beat the Bucks, or at very least make it a long series.
The odds don't indicate these two teams are anywhere near equals. The Hawks can prove otherwise, starting on Wednesday night.
Here's the first look at the betting slate for Wednesday:
NHL could get first Stanley Cup finalist
The Tampa Bay Lightning lead their series against the New York Islanders 3-2 and are -155 favorites to win Game 6 at BetMGM. The Islanders will want to make up for being embarrassed 8-0 in Game 5, and we'll see how the Lightning play without the urgency to finish the series on Wednesday night. The Islanders have been great as underdogs throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs, and they're worth one more play on Wednesday night as +125 dogs.
Who cashed tickets on Tuesday?
Sorry to all the Los Angeles Clippers moneyline bettors. In one of the greatest inbounds plays you'll see, Jae Crowder lobbed one up to Deandre Ayton, who slammed it home with less than a second remaining to lift the Phoenix Suns in a thrilling win over the Clippers. The Suns are up 2-0 in the series, though the Clippers showed Tuesday night they can compete with Phoenix even without Kawhi Leonard.
The heavily favored Vegas Golden Knights are suddenly in trouble. The Montreal Canadiens scored a big upset in Game 5, dominating Vegas from the first period on in a 4-1 win. They're up 3-2 in the series (and one bettor is a win away from cashing $150,000 on a great futures bet).
The San Diego Padres took a second straight game off the Los Angeles Dodgers, beating Clayton Kershaw with a couple home runs for a 3-2 win. The MLB-leading San Francisco Giants, who strangely were underdogs on Tuesday night, got an easy 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
The Dodgers are dogs again
The Dodgers went 150 straight games without being underdogs, then could be underdogs twice in a three-game stretch. Los Angeles is a slight -105 underdog at BetMGM against the Padres on Wednesday night. It wouldn't take much for that line to move in the Dodgers' favor before first pitch, but it's still strange to see Los Angeles open as underdogs again. The Padres have made a nice statement with two straight wins to start the series against their rival.
What else is on the MLB schedule?
It's Wednesday, which means some day baseball. There are three early starts and two mid-afternoon games. The marquee game is the Giants against the Angels. Giants starter Kevin Gausman and his 1.51 ERA takes on AL MVP favorite Shohei Ohtani, who has a 2.70 ERA of his own. Ohtani also has a league-leading 23 homers. The Giants are slight -115 favorites, and that seems like the right play (even though it hurts to fade the endlessly entertaining Ohtani)
Who plays in Euro 2020?
Both Group E and F are up for grabs as both groups finish up play Wednesday. We'll get Sweden vs. Poland and Slovakia vs. Spain at noon Eastern, then Germany vs. Hungary and Portugal vs. France (a heck of a group stage matchup, especially with spots in the round of 16 unsettled) at 3 p.m. Eastern. Yahoo Sportsbook's Nick Bromberg has his picks for the four matches here.
What's the best bet?
Let's go with a soccer play and take Euro 2020 tournament favorite France at reasonable +115 odds to knock off Portugal. Portugal beat France in the Euro 2016 final to take the championship and Cristiano Ronaldo is still great, but France is going to punch its ticket to the round of 16.
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