Up 3-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Atlanta Hawks (67-26, 27-19 away) are hoping to clinch the series against the Washington Wizards (52-39, 32-13 home) in Game 6 tonight at Verizon Center (7:00 PM Eastern).
The series has been a constant seesaw battle, and the back-and-forth continued in Game 5 with the Hawks taking an 82-81 win thanks to an Al Horford tip-in with less than two seconds on the clock.
“I wasn’t supposed to be involved in the play at all,” Horford told ESPN.com. “When I saw the ball go up, I just ran in there.”
The truth is, as the No. 1 seed in the East, the Hawks are right where they are supposed to be, despite it being a rougher road than expected. The first round saw the Brooklyn Nets give the Hawks an unexpected six-game battle. Now the Wizards, led by veteran Paul Pierce, are doing the same.
In fact, Pierce almost repeated his Game 3 buzzer-beating heroics in Game 5, draining a three to put the Wizards up by one point with roughly eight seconds to go. However, Horford and the Hawks had other plans.
“I think the sting of this game is going to motivate us for Game 6,” Pierce added. “We’re going to go back home with aspirations of winning and making another trip to Atlanta.”
The Wizards have a decent chance to make that a reality tonight thanks to the surprising return of star point guard John Wall to the lineup. A hand injury was supposed to end his playoffs – at least his series – but the guard played 37 minutes in Game 5, scoring 15 points with seven dimes.
Looking at the series’ betting trends, four out of five games have been decided by six points or less. Additionally, the Hawks 6-4 in their last ten and 27-19 on the road for the season. So while the Hawks and the points (+2.5) isn’t bad, the better option is Atlanta to win, meaning the Hawks’ moneyline (+130) is the play.
(Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Flickr: Al Horford) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)