All season long and into the playoffs I have exclusively been handicapping the Washington Wizardsas part of a NBA betting strategy that relies heavily on specialization. To back this project up with some betting action, I have also been releasing free picks for their games with the use of Doc's Sports Unit Betting System. My year-to-date results have been mixed, and with the wrong call in my last pick I am currently down -$30 in the postseason.
Doc's has been posting these free Washington Wizards picks on its homepage, so be sure to check the site to follow along with my progress. The Wizards have been one of the biggest surprises in these NBA Playoffs, and my goal is to capitalize on their success for as long as it lasts.
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Washington Wizards Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Saturday, May 9, 5 p.m. EST (Verizon Center)
The Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup between Washington and Atlanta changes venues to the Verizon Center this Saturday afternoon. These two Southeast Division rivals split the first two games in Atlanta, and tipoff for this crucial Game 3 is set for 5 p.m. (ET) with the game being broadcast nationally on ESPN.
Atlanta followed up a disappointing 104-98 loss in Game 1 of this best-of-seven affair as a 5.5-point home favorite with a much better performance this past Tuesday night in a solid 106-90 victory as a 9.5-point favorite at home. This 1-1 start followed a longer-than-expected 4-2 series victory against No. 8 Brooklyn in the opening round. The top-seeded Hawks have now covered in three of their last four games after going 0-6 against the spread in their previous six contests.
The Wizards five-game run both straight up and against the spread in these playoffs finally came to an end with Tuesday night's loss. Much to my dismay given a 3-Unit play on the "over," the total stayed just "under" the closing 198-point line. It had gone over in seven of their previous eight outings. Washington is still a healthy 7-1-1 ATS in its last nine games.
Atlanta at Washington Betting Storylines
The Hawks have not looked anything like the top seed in the East for most of these playoffs after posting 60 SU wins in the regular season. They have shot just 43.1 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range, and even in Tuesday's win these numbers basically remained the same. Defensively, Atlanta held its opponents to an average of 97.1 points per game in the regular season, which was ranked fifth in the NBA. It has been able to hold true to this average by giving up 96.5 points through eight playoff games.
DeMarre Carroll continues to play at a high level for the Hawks in the postseason with a team-high 18.9 PPG, and he led the way again on Tuesday night with a game-high 22 points. Four of Atlanta's five starters scored in double-figures in that crucial win, and Kent Bazemore added another 10 points off the bench. One area were the Hawks have done a fairly good job against both the Nets and the Wizards is under the boards with an average of 46.3 rebounds a game.
Washington showed the rest of the league just how good it can play when John Wall and Bradley Beal are at the top of their game in a four-game sweep of Toronto in the first round and in Game 1 of this series. The problem in Tuesday night's loss was that Wall was on the sidelines with a badly sprained left wrist, and Beal had to battle through a sprained ankle he suffered in that series-opening win. The result was a 16-point loss and a dismal outlook for the rest of this series if both players can't heal up in time for Saturday's contest.
Through his first five playoff games, Wall has averaged 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 12.6 assists. It's no wonder why the Wizards lost Game 2 with that kind of production on the shelf. Beal has led the team in scoring in the postseason with an average of 21.8 PPG, but in Game 2 he scored 20 points while going just 8-for-22 from the field. Washington has also gotten a solid effort from veteran Paul Pierce with 16 PPG and Marcin Gortat with 10.2 rebounds a game, but it remains to be seen if the rest of this team can step up their game enough to fill the void left by Wall's injury.
Atlanta at Washington NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
The Hawks are 1-3-1 ATS in their last five road games, and they are 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 games played in the conference semifinals. The total has gone over in five of their last six games against a team with a SU winning record.
The Wizards are 3-0-2 ATS in their last five games at home, but they are just 5-17-1 ATS in their last 23 games following a SU loss. The total has gone over in 10 of their last 12 home games.
The home team is 3-1-1 ATS in the last five meetings, and the total has gone over in five of the last six games. Atlanta had the 3-1 SU edge in the regular season while going 3-0-1 ATS.
Atlanta at Washington Free NBA Picks and Betting Predictions
The Wizards went from being slight favorites at home to three-point underdogs with Wall listed as doubtful for Game 3. When you add in the fact that Hawks are finally starting look like the top seed in the East, I am going with a 4-Unit play that Atlanta covers that spread with another convincing win this Saturday afternoon.
NBA Regular Season Betting Record: 12-11-2 (-$260)
NBA Playoffs Betting Record: 1-1 (-$30)
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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