The Indiana Pacers are in the playoffs for the third straight season, the Atlanta Hawks for the sixth straight year.
But neither team has made an impact past the first round over those spans. Sunday the Pacers and Hawks begin what they hope is a playoff stay that stretches at least past the conference semis as they tip off a first-round Eastern Conference series with a Game 1 in Indianapolis (1 pm ET, TNT).
In the early betting, Sportsbook.ag was listing Indiana at -7 points for Sunday's series opener over Atlanta. Also, 5Dimes was chalking the Pacers at -420 to win this series, with the Hawks getting +330 to pull the upset.
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Indiana (49-32 SU, 42-39 ATS) played basically the entire season without Danny Granger, who led the team in scoring last season, but still won the Central Division for the first time since 2004.
The Pacers surprised many by staying in the hunt for the two seed in the East for as long as they did, but they stumbled a bit down the stretch, losing five of their last six games, ending up with the three seed.
Atlanta (44-38 SU, 47-43 ATS) went through its share of ups and downs this season, starting slowly before going on an 11-2 run, later losing eight of 11, then climbing to within spittin' distance of the four seed, but ending the season by losing five of its last seven to finish with the six seed.
So neither of these teams enters these playoffs having played particularly well as of late.
These two teams split four games this season, the home team winning all four games. Most recently, the Pacers beat the Hawks 100-94 in Indy three weeks ago.
Also, three of those four games played OVER on the totals.
On the NBA futures betting boards, Bovada was offering Indiana at 12/1 to win the Eastern Conference and 25/1 to win its first-ever NBA championship, while Atlanta was getting 66/1 to win the East and 150/1 to win the franchise's first league title since the St. Louis Hawks did so back in 1958.
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