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The Daily Sweat: The Hawks have the worst series odds of any team leading 3-2

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Are you confident that Atlanta can win one of its next two games?

The Hawks’ incredible comeback Wednesday night earned them a 3-2 lead in their second-round series against the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers. Atlanta outscored Philadelphia 40-19 in the fourth quarter and trailed by 25 with 3:19 to go in the third quarter before beginning the comeback.

Trae Young had 39 points and the Sixers’ flaws were on full display for the second straight game. Philly looks vulnerable and it’s hard to see how the 76ers win the NBA title right now.

Yet Atlanta’s odds to win the series aren’t as overwhelmingly good as you may think. The Hawks are just -160 to win the series at BetMGM. Those are distinctly worse odds than the Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn’s odds to beat the Bucks in either Game 6 or Game 7 are -250. That makes a lot of sense, especially given what Kevin Durant did to the Bucks on Tuesday night.

But the Hawks’ odds are also worse than the shorthanded Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers took a 3-2 lead in their series with the Utah Jazz late Thursday night with a 119-111 win in Utah. The Clippers have been playing the series without Serge Ibaka and didn’t have Kawhi Leonard for Game 5 — and maybe even the rest of the playoffs. Yet L.A.’s odds are -180 and provide a lower return on a series win than Atlanta’s odds.

After watching Wednesday night’s game it’s hard not to believe in Atlanta’s ability to beat Philly. Joel Embiid has been phenomenal at times but he struggled in the second half of Game 4 and missed two free throws late in Game 5 that could have gotten Philadelphia back into the game.

The Sixers’ other star is a mess at the free-throw line. Ben Simmons took just four shots from the field in Game 5 and made just four free throws on 14 attempts while grabbing four rebounds and dishing nine assists. While Seth Curry played an admirable supporting role to Embiid with 36 points, no other 76er scored in double figures in Game 5.

Simmons’ free-throw struggles are a huge problem too. While Philadelphia wants to keep him on the floor late in games for his defense, keeping him out there incentivizes teams — like the Hawks have done — to foul him and send him to the free-throw line. Simmons is just 22-of-67 from the line this postseason, down dramatically from his previous playoff percentages. He shot 23-of-40 in the 2019 postseason and 41-of-58 in the 2018 postseason.

Simmons’ 10 misses from the free throw line in Game 5 were four more than Atlanta had as a team. The Hawks were 22-of-28 — thanks to Young’s 17-of-19 performance — and are shooting nearly 84% from the line as a team in the postseason.

Atlanta heads home for Game 6 on Friday night and State Farm Arena is going to be rocking. Yet the Sixers are, as of now, favored by 2.5 points. Grab the underdog Hawks both on the moneyline for Game 6 and to win the series.

U.S. Open prop bets

The U.S. Open tees off Thursday at Torrey Pines in San Diego. The West Coast major means that most of us will get prime-time golf over the next four days. There’s not much better than prime-time major golf.

And major golf prop bets are pretty fun too. BetMGM has some great props for the tournament. You can get Rory McIlroy and Viktor Holland to both finish in the top 20 at +290. Or Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas to all make the cut at -110.

If you’re not wanting to parlay golfers, there are some other fun bets to consider. An American golfer winning the tournament is at -145. If you don’t think there will be a hole-in-one at all during the tournament, you can bet No for +110.

PGA winner Phil Mickelson has a couple good props for the first round too. You can get Mickelson at +100 to shoot a 72 or lower and at +500 to birdie his first hole of the tournament (the Par 4 10th). If you’re wanting a piece of golf action this weekend, you don’t have to stick with betting the tournament winner.

Euro 2020 parlays

Thursday’s Euro 2020 slate features three games that include Belgium and the Netherlands. Both teams each scored three goals while winning their first games of the tournament.

Belgium — the No. 1 team in FIFA’s rankings — is a slight favorite against Denmark on Thursday while the Netherlands is favored against Austria. If you like both of them to win, we recommend you grab them in a parlay at +210.

Another fun parlay is available for the Copa America tournament. Both Colombia(-300) and Brazil (-500) are heavy favorites. If you think both teams are going to win by two goals you can get that parlay at +210.

Who cashed tickets on Wednesday?

Clippers and Hawks bettors were obviously thrilled with what happened on Wednesday. And it was a day for favorites at Euro 2020. Italy, Wales and Russia all won on Wednesday and two of the three games featured two or fewer goals.

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