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Vegas not ready to proclaim Wizards as favorites

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Vegas not ready to proclaim Wizards as favorites

Following a first round sweep as an underdog, the general worldview gives the Washington Wizards much more than just a puncher's chance to beat the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinals

Regardless, Las Vegas isn't ready to put the Wizards into the role of favorite.

The Hawks are -240* to win the series, which begins Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in Atlanta, while the Wizards are +200, according to online oddsmakers Bovada.

(*Bettors must wager $240 on Atlanta to win $100 while a $100 bet on Washington would pay back double with a Wizards series victory)

Those are the same odds on both ends for the other East semifinal pitting favorite Cleveland against Chicago. However, the Cavaliers have betting favorite LeBron James on their side. Also, the belief is the winner of that series wins the Eastern Conference.

Cleveland Cavaliers 5/7

Chicago Bulls 13/4

Atlanta Hawks 7/2

Washington Wizards 12/1

Broaden out the view. Among the eight teams remaining in the playoffs, the Wizards have the highest odds to win the NBA championship as of Saturday.

Golden State Warriors 7/5

Cleveland Cavaliers 7/2

Chicago Bulls 7/1

Atlanta Hawks 12/1

Houston Rockets 12/1

Los Angeles Clippers 12/1

Memphis Grizzlies 18/1

Washington Wizards 28/1

If you liked what you saw out of the Wizards in the opening round and believe such success is sustainable, Vegas is providing a payday opportunity. Of course, proceed with caution because 1) All of this data is provided for information only 2) Washington hasn't advanced beyond this round since 1979 and 3) Pundits are not totally on board with the Wizards this round either.

CBS Sports: Four of five analysts picked the Hawks

ESPN: Nine of 13 picked the Hawks

Yahoo's Dan Devine: Hawks in six

Since I'm noting predictions from others this series, might as well man up and make a call. Assuming that:

- John Wall commits turnovers within his normal range and not what he did against the Hawks this season

- That the mismatch that is Hawks forward Paul Millsap becomes less so by using more of Paul Pierce and Drew Gooden at power forward

- The Wizards perimeter defense that stifled DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry at least makes like difficult for wings Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll

Then I'll say Wizards split the two games in Atlanta, do the same in Washington before winning Game 5 and 6 and therefore the series. 

Certainly don't make any wagers based on that last prediction.

RELATED: [Wizards' perimeter defense keys on Kyle Korver]

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:

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2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:

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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:

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