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.