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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 7:00 PM

The Atlanta Hawks entered the 2015 NBA Playoffs as the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They weren’t the betting favorites because Cleveland has been so impressive since LeBron James and company got all of their pieces in place. But, the Hawks were an undisputed #2 in the Eastern race…well ahead of the rest of the field.

There are now very clear questions about that three games into what was supposed to be a lopsided #1 vs. #8 Atlanta/Brooklyn matchup. No REAL team should have trouble against a #8 seed in the pathetic East! Yet, Atlanta has yet to play to market expectations once. They only lead 2-1 straight up in the series with home teams holding serve. And, there is literally NOTHING about the way Atlanta is playing that would suggest they could beat Cleveland and compete vs. the Western champs in June. Frankly, there’s not much to suggest they will get by Washington in the second round!

Of course, a lot of teams start slowly in the postseason. San Antonio had to sweat a 7-game series with Dallas last year before steamrolling everybody else. Maybe Atlanta is just getting its bearings. Game Four will provide an important test:

*Game Four is Atlanta’s first “bounce back” spot off a loss in the series

*Game Four is often when dominant teams earn their first road rout (like GS over NO)

*Game Four is when feisty underdogs start to give up hope

We’ll say it this way. If Brooklyn wins game four to even things up…then you can pretty much pencil in Cleveland for the Eastern half of the championship round. If Atlanta FINALLY comes close to their regular season form…things might get interesting again. The playoffs begin Monday for Atlanta.

Let’s take a look at the key stats for Game Three to see what went wrong…



Brooklyn 91, Atlanta 83

Shooting Pct: Atlanta 36%, Brooklyn 39%

Three-Pointers: Atlanta 6/30, Brooklyn 7/22

Free Throws: Atlanta 13/17, Brooklyn 20/25

Rebounds: Atlanta 51, Brooklyn 52

Turnovers: Atlanta 15, Brooklyn 15

Vegas Line: Atlanta by 3.5, total of 199

Brooklyn won the first quarter 31-15…blew ALL of that lead…but then went on a 20-0 run that spanned the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter to earn its first win of the series.

Some quick hitters:

*Atlanta was a pathetic 6 of 30 from the three-point line. If they don’t make at least 10 of 30….then they’re not going to be any kind of force. This is a team that MUST shoot well from long range to scare people.

*The Atlanta defense is better than people realize…and did hold its own in this one. The combination of great shooting and solid defense is what made Atlanta so lethal in the regular season. At least the defense is holding up. It held Brooklyn to 39% shooting, forced 15 turnovers, and only allowed 2 fast break points the whole way.

*Deron Williams has been an anvil on the Nets since arriving from Utah a few years ago. Recent published comments from Paul Pierce (now of Washington) only hurt his reputation more. Williams left Game Three with an injury just before that huge 20-0 run. If Brooklyn’s braintrust FINALLY realizes that de-emphasizing Williams is a key to success…Atlanta could be in real trouble!

Things could get very interesting Monday Night in Brooklyn. If Atlanta gets its legs back…then interest in the East will be delayed another round. Maybe two.

Las Vegas Line: Atlanta by 4, total of 195.5

JIM HURLEY has always had great sources in New York. We can assure you that they’ll be all over this game and the rest of this series. You can purchase the final word for Monday (the best from this game, plus Game Four of Memphis/Portland and Game Five of Milwaukee/Chicago) right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Friday. Get locked in now for great rates in basketball, baseball, and horse racing’s Triple Crown! The Kentucky Derby will be here before you know it!

We’ll continue our NBA Playoff game previews day-by-day…unless there aren’t any games! There may be more baseball coverage than we originally anticipated given the lack of an underdog presence so far in the hoops. Here’s the current schedule. We’ll pencil in particular matchups as they become known.

Tuesday: Game Five of the San Antonio/LA Clippers series

Wednesday: Game Five of Brooklyn/Atlanta series

Thursday: Game Six Preview or baseball

Friday: Game Six Preview or baseball

Saturday-Sunday: Game Sevens, Game One’s of the next round, or baseball

Atlanta may be exposed as a pretender Monday Night…just the way oddsmakers have been exposed as pretenders for YEARS by JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK! The market is no match for the exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach made famous by NETWORK. Our scouts, sources, statheads, trend historians, computer programmers, and Wise Guy connections will make sure you GET ALL THE MONEY!


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