Sports Picks sets up the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks squaring off Thursday in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at Philips Arena (8 pm ET, ESPN).

NBA Odds have Chicago as a 3.5-point, -165 moneyline favorite and the over/under total at 179.

Chicago leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 after picking up a win in Game 5 on Tuesday at the United Center. The Bulls can advance to the Eastern Conference Final with a win while the Hawks will be aiming to force a Game 7 on Sunday back in the Windy City.

The Bulls grabbed the series lead with a 95-83 win Tuesday. Chicago cashed as an 8.5-point home favorite, and the score went under the total of 180.5. The Bulls were paced by Derrick Rose and his 33 points. Chicago forward Taj Gibson also came up big, scoring all of his 11 in the final frame to help the Bulls seal the win.

Head-to-head, the Bulls and Hawks are 5-5 straight up and against the point spread in the past 10 matchups. The Bulls were 2-1 SU and ATS in the season series, which they wrapped up March 22 with a 114-81 rout of the Hawks. Over/under bettors should note that three of the five games in this series have gone over the total.

Chicago finished 62-20 SU and 50-31-1 ATS this season, the No. 1 seed in the conference.  Atlanta was 44-38 SU and 37-45 ATS, the No. 5 seed.

Sports Picks previews the Atlanta Hawks and the Chicago Bulls battling in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Tuesday at the United Center (8 pm ET, TNT).

NBA Odds have the Bulls as an 8.5-point, -500 moneyline favorite and the total at 181.

Atlanta evened the best-of-seven NBA Playoffs series at 2-2 with a 100-88 win in Game 4 on Sunday, with the Hawks covering the point spread as a 3.5-point home underdog. The score cleared the over/under total of 178.5.

The Hawks and the Bulls are at 5-5, both straight up and against the point spread, in the past 10 head-to-head meetings. Atlanta is 10-5 SU in its last 15 games when playing Chicago but is 2-4 SU in its last six games against the Bulls.

Bettors should note that when it comes to the over/under, the total has gone over in three of the past four meetings overall, in four of the past five meetings overall, in five of the past seven in Chicago, and in four of Chicago’s last five games.

The Hawks have struggled on the road recently, going 2-7 SU in their past nine games on the road, while the Bulls are a dominating 22-2 SU in their last 24 games at home. The Bulls have struggled to cover at home, going 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games at home.

Atlanta went 44-38 SU and 37-45 ATS this season, and is the No. 5 seed in the East. Chicago was 62-20 SU and 50-31-1 ATS, and is the No. 1 seed.

Sports Picks previews the Orlando Magic looking to avoid elimination from the NBA Playoffs for the second straight game when they visit the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of their first round Eastern Conference series Thursday at Philips Arena (7:30 pm ET, NBA TV).

NBA Odds have the Magic as a 2-point favorite and the over/under total at 178.

Atlanta has a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and can advance to the second round with a win Thursday.

Orlando (52-30 SU, 34-46-2 ATS) is the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference while Atlanta (44-38 SU, 37-45 ATS) is the No. 5 seed.

Head-to-head, the Hawks are 6-4 SU and 8-2 ATS in the past 10 meetings, and 6-2 SU in the last eight. Nine of the past 10 have gone under the over/under total, including the past four games in this series.

In fact, looking closer, there is a really strong under trend, as 10 of the past 11 meetings overall and all five of the past five in Atlanta have gone under, as have six of Orlando’s last seven games and seven of Atlanta’s last eight.

The Magic staved off elimination with a 101-76 win over the Hawks in Game 5 on Tuesday at the Amway Arena. Orlando cashed as a 7-point home favorite and the score went under the total of 179.

Orlando has struggled against the spread in this series, going 1-4 ATS. The Magic have also struggled on the road, going 2-5 SU in their last seven on the road and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 on the road.

Sports Picks sets up two teams looking to advance to the second round of the NBA Playoffs with wins tonight, starting with the Atlanta Hawks when they face the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of their first-round series at the Amway Center (7:35 pm ET, NBA TV).

NBA Odds have the Magic as a 7-point favorite and the over/under total at 177.5.

Atlanta has a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and will earn a berth in the next round with a win.

The teams split the first two games in Orlando, and Games 3 and 4 in Atlanta were like identical twins – Atlanta won Game 4 by a 88-85 score on Sunday, covering as a 1.5-point home underdog, after winning Game 3 on Friday by an 88-84 score, cashing as a 1.5-point home underdog.

Bettors should take note of a significant under trend: The score has gone under the over/under total in nine of the last 10 meetings overall, and has also gone under in six of the last eight meetings in Orlando.

Also facing elimination Tuesday are the Indiana Pacers, while the Chicago Bulls can move on to the second round with a win over the Pacers at the United Center (8:05 pm ET, TNT).

The Bulls are a 9-point, -600 moneyline favorite and the over/under is 186.5 in NBA Betting. 

Chicago leads the best-of-seven series 3-1.

Indiana stayed alive in the series with an 89-84 win in Game 4 on Saturday. The Pacers cashed as a 4.5-point home underdog and the score was under the total of 189.5.

The Orlando Magic will try to even their NBA Playoffs series with the Atlanta Hawks when the Southeast division rivals clash in Game 2 of their first-round Eastern Conference series on Tuesday at the Amway Center (7:30 pm ET, NBA TV).

Basketball Picks and NBA Betting Odds have the Magic as an 8.5-point favorite and the over/under total at 183.

As many predicted might happen, the Hawks upset the Magic in the opener on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Atlanta won 103-93 and cashed as a 9-point road underdog. The score went over the total of 180.5.

It wasn’t a shocking result, as the Magic went 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS in the season series this year.

Over the past 10 head-to-head, both are 5-5 straight and Atlanta has a slight edge against the spread at 6-4 ATS. There is a strong under trend with the under hitting in six of the past seven and eight of the past 10.

The only surprise was the result went against the teams’ performances down the stretch, as the Hawks had lost six straight to end the regular season, and the Magic had won four of its last five regular season games.

Dwight Howard had a playoff career-best 46 points as well as 19 rebounds for Orlando. Joe Johnson had 25 points and Jamal Crawford scored 23 for Atlanta and.

Atlanta went 44-38 SU and 37-45 ATS this past season, ending up as the 5th seed in the East. Orlando was 52-30 SU and 34-46-2 ATS, the No. 4 seed.

The Boston Celtics will be in a tough spot Friday when they visit the Atlanta Hawks in a nationally televised NBA matchup at Philips Arena (8 pm ET, ESPN).

The Celtics will be playing the second game of a tough back-to-back situation, while the Hawks will be well rested and are riding a three-game win streak.

Boston (51-22 SU, 33-38-2 ATS) has struggled mightily recently, and have fallen out of first place in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta (43-32 SU, 35-40 ATS) has been inconsistent this season but has put together a modest win streak, as well as covering the spread in four straight.

Head-to-head,  the Celtics are 6-4 straight up and 4-6 against the spread over the past 10 meetings. This is their third meeting this season, and Boston has won and covered both previous games, including a 102-90 win on Dec. 16, when the Celtics cashed as a 7-point home favorite.

The Celtics faced the Spurs in San Antonio on Thursday. Atlanta beat the Orlando Magic 85-82 in its last game Wednesday.

Later Friday, the free-falling Utah Jazz face the surging Los Angeles Lakers at the Energy Solutions Arena (10:30 pm ET, ESPN).

Utah (36-39 SU, 31-42-2 ATS) has lost six straight and eight of its past 10, and is now completely out of the Western Conference playoff picture. Its latest loss may have been its most demoralizing: a 100-95 home-court setback against the Washington Wizards, the NBA’s worst road team (2-35 SU)

Conversely, the Lakers (53-20 SU, 35-38 ATS) have won seven in a row and an astounding 15 of their past 16 games. The two time defending NBA champion Lakers are looking like they’re ready for another long playoff run. They also look like they’re aiming for first place in the Western conference, as they trail the San Antonio Spurs by just 3.5 games headed into action Thursday.

Southeast division rivals the Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat meet Tuesday in NBA action at Miami’s American Airlines Arena (7:30 pm ET, NBA TV).

The Hawks (27-15 SU, 19-22 ATS, 2nd Southeast) almost got caught looking ahead to this divisional showdown when they hosted the lowly Sacramento Kings (9-30 SU) on Monday, as they needed two last-second free-throws to squeeze out a win in a game in which they’d been favored by 8 points.

The Heat (30-12 SU, 19-22-1 ATS, 1st Southeast) have lost three straight and the Big 3 are on the limp. Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh all sat out practice Monday with various injuries. Bosh and James are both suffering from sprained left ankles while Wade was out with a sore knee.

Miami is 6-4 SU and ATS in the past 10 head-to-head meetings. Seven of the past 10 have gone under the total.

This is the second meeting of the season between the division rivals. Miami won the first clash on Dec. 4, beating the Hawks 89-77. The Heat cashed as an 8.5-point home favorite and the score was under the over/under total of 192.5.

Atlanta shooting guard Joe Johnson scored a season-high 36 points to lead the Hawks to a 100-98 come-from-behind win over Sacramento on Monday. His most important points were two free throws with 0.6 seconds left to get Atlanta the win.

Miami lost 99-96 to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, failing to cover as a 2.5-point road underdog. The score went over the total of 187.5.

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