The Atlanta Hawks (36-30) hold a half-game lead over the Miami Heat (35-30), but the Hawks are favorites to win the Southeast Division at -215 odds, while the Heat are the underdogs at +160 odds, according to a recent update by DraftKings.
In the Eastern Conference, two out of three divisions have yet to be decided. The Milwaukee Bucks hold a 10-game lead over the Indiana Pacers in the Central Division while the Atlantic Division is also a coin flip.
The Philadelphia 76ers hold a one-game lead over Brooklyn Nets in their battle for the Atlantic crown that could come down to the last weekend of the season. Not only do the Nets and 76ers have the division at stake, the overall #1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs is also on the line.
|NBA Southeast Division Odds
Out in the Western Conference, most of the division leaders hold a four-game lead over second place. That includes the Utah Jazz (Northwest), Phoenix Suns (Pacific), and Dallas Mavericks (Southwest).
The Hawks hold a better division record for now with a 6-3 clip against Southeast teams. The Heat are only 6-6 in Southeast Division play.
Atlanta On Deck: Suns, Pacers, Wizards
The Hawks have Trae Young (25.5 ppg, 9.4 assists) back in the lineup for the final stretch of games. Young rolled his ankle and missed a couple of games. Subsequently, the Hawks went on a three-game losing streak without their leading scorer and playmaker. Young is second-best in the NBA in assists, trailing Russell Westbrook.
The Hawks have only six games remaining, but five of them are on their home court in Atlanta.
The Phoenix Suns (46-18), one of the elite teams from the Western Conference are in town on Wednesday. The matchup marks the first game of a home/road back-to-back stretch.
On Thursday, the Hawks make a quick trip to Indianapolis to battle the Indiana Pacers (30-34). Then the Hawks have a rare three days off in a row with no games over the weekend.
Next week, the Hawks host the surging Washington Wizards (30-35) for two games. The Hawks face two of the worst teams in the league in their final two games when the Orlando Magic (21-44) and Houston Rockets (16-49) roll into Atlanta.
The division title would be fine and dandy, but the Hawks need a healthy Young for a playoff push. There’s a slight chance the team rests Young in the final weekend of the season.
Miami Slow Start, Up and Down Season
The Miami Heat were the consensus favorites to win the Southeast Division before the season began. The Heat were -360 odds in the preseason, but stumbled out of the gate with a slow start. Their deep playoff run and short turnaround time between seasons were the main culprits for their lackluster start. The Heat were 7-14 at the start of February before unleashing a 15-6 run to get back into contention.
Miami survived a horrendous slump in late March and early April. They went 6-10 before snapping a six-game losing streak. Jimmy Butler didn’t hold back his true feelings in regard to how the Heat were playing. He thought they were soft and passive, which was the exact opposite of how the Heat played in last year’s postseason. The Heat were fearless and relentless during their march toward the NBA Finals.
Butler and the Heat currently occupy the #6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They don’t want to slip to the #7 spot and be forced to participate in the play-in tournament. The Heat lead the Boston Celtics (34-31) by just one game.
Pat Riley and the Heat brought in Victor Oladipo in a trade with the Houston Rockets to help bolster the scoring load. Oladipo, who was traded twice this season, appeared in just four games with the Heat, averaging 12 ppg.
Duncan Robinson recently notched the 500th 3-pointer of his career. He’s become the fastest player in NBA history to achieve that feat, which is impressive considering it took him only 152 games. Robinson averages 13 ppg this season while shooting 40.3% from 3-point land.
Miami On Deck: Mavs, T-Wolves, Celtics
The Heat have seven games remaining versus six for the Hawks, which could give Miami a slight edge in Southeast Division betting, even though they’re the second favorite at +160 odds. The Heat will play only three games in Miami and will hit the road for four away games.
This week, the Heat host the Dallas Mavericks (36-28) and Minnesota Timberwolves (20-45). Then, they fly up to Boston to take on the Celtics for two games in three days. They return home for a single game against the Philadelphia 76ers (44-21) next Thursday.
On the final weekend of the season, the Heat will play back-to-back road games against the Milwaukee Bucks (40-24) and Detroit Pistons (19-46).