2023 NBA playoffs: Odds, picks, betting tips for Celtics-Hawks

ESPN’s fantasy basketball and basketball betting tips cheat sheet is your pregame destination for basketball betting predictions and our best intel and data, featuring ESPN’s proprietary Basketball Power Index (BPI) to help you make smart fantasy and wagering decisions. NBA game odds for Thursday are provided by Caesars Sportsbook.

What you need to know for Thursday’s games

Save for the sweep of the Brooklyn Nets by the Philadelphia 76ers, the Eastern Conference’s playoff series have been defined by strong play from the lower seeds. The Miami Heat just pulled off an epic upset of the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, setting them up to face a New York Knicks team that handily knocked off the Cleveland Cavaliers. Which brings us to tonight’s Game 6 between the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks.

Boston enters the game as sizable road favorites seeking to close out Atlanta, while the total of 232 suggests there’s plenty of room for strong offensive showings on both sides. Building lineups around Trae Young isn’t a groundbreaking concept, while I’m also intrigued with builds that feature Dejounte Murray in a matchup that will demand strong two-way contributions from the star guard.

With just this one game on the schedule, it could prove rewarding to find unique paths to betting the contest. For Boston, one prop plays stand out; Marcus Smart’s scoring prop of 12.5 points. Last season’s Defensive Player of the Year has averaged 15.6 points on strong percentages in this series and has scored at least 10 in each appearance, suggesting this number is achievable in a game that should demand more than 30 minutes from Smart.

— Jim McCormick

Breaking down the slate

Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks
Game 6: 8:30 p.m. ET, Celtics series 3-2

Records (Against the Spread)
Celtics: 57-25 (45-36-1)
Hawks: 41-41 (36-44-2)

Line: Celtics (-7) Total: 232.5
BPI Projection: Celtics by 7.3
Money Line: Celtics (-260), Hawks (+210)

Injury Report:
Celtics: Danilo Gallinari, (OUT – Knee)
Hawks: None reported
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Celtics 1Q (-2). The Celtics have covered this number in four of five games this series. First quarter and first half bets always stand out to me in the postseason because it’s about motivation. Boston will come into this game hungry to close out the series, especially after Trae Young hit a 3-point dagger to win Game 5. I have to back a motivated Celtics squad to cover the first quarter number. — Erin Dolan

Best bet: Celtics (-7). Boston will use their unprecedented Game 5 loss as fuel in Game 6. For the first time in franchise history, the Celtics blew a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. It was the first time in 31 years that a home team leading 3-1 in a series and by 10 or more points entering the fourth quarter lost a Game 5 since 2003. I’m adding salt to the wound because I want you to understand how the Celtics feel. To avoid a Game 7 and close out this series, Boston will be extremely focused on both ends of the floor in Game 6. There’s a history of Celtics winning on the road after a bad loss. In their last 10 games against the Hawks, Boston is 8-2 against the spread. — Eric Moody

Best bet: Jaylen Brown over 32.5 points + rebounds. Brown has averaged 25.6 PPG and 5.4 RPG against the Hawks in this series. He said this following Game 5: “Our challenge is to get ready for the next one. We’ve been in situations like this before. You can’t look around and point fingers. You have to take ownership of the situation. Got two chances to win one.” There’s no doubt Brown is an elite scorer, but sometimes he’s overshadowed by Jayson Tatum. It doesn’t seem like that’ll happen in Game 6 given the circumstances, which leads me to my best bet. — Moody

Best bet: Jayson Tatum over 44.5 points + assists + rebounds. Tatum is coming off a disappointing performance in Game 5, which saw him finish with only 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. I believe he’s going to have a better-than-expected finish to this series. In Tatum’s last 11 games against the Hawks, he’s averaged 42.8 PAR. He will surpass that number on Thursday night. — Moody

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