Judged by Their Covers, Atlanta Hawks Fascinate Bettors
Wed, Jan 28, 2015
As the Atlanta Hawks exceed the most pie-in-the-sky expectations in the N.B.A. standings this season, with a 38-8 record after Wednesday night’s home win over the Nets, their ledger against the spread is equally astonishing.
The Hawks have covered 33 times, more than any other team through 46 games in at least a quarter-century, according to the sports odds tracker Covers, whose research dates to the 1990-91 season. The 1994-95 Utah Jazz previously had the high-water mark.
In the alternate universe that is against-the-spread, or A.T.S., the next most successful team this season is Milwaukee, according to Covers. The Bucks, 23-22 in real life, are 30-15 when point spreads come into play.
Already, the Hawks have claimed an A.T.S. achievement, with 15 consecutive wins, three more than the former record, which was shared by two squads, including Atlanta’s team of 1993-94, according to Covers.
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The joy ride was interrupted Sunday with a 12-point victory over Minnesota because the point spread had made the Hawks a 17.5-point favorite.
“Streaks like this don’t come around very often,” said Jon Campbell, managing editor at Covers. “A lot of bettors were smart enough to recognize that, and they jumped on it.”
Still, not even professional gamblers saw this coming. One preseason wager is the over-under bet, predicting whether a team’s wins total will surpass or fall short of a designated figure.
At the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, the assistant manager and oddsmaker Jeff Sherman noted that the Hawks earned 38 wins last season with a roster nearly identical to their current one. So he set the over-under at 43. The team could match that total by the All-Star break.
“It’s not often that we judge something and miss it that much,” Sherman said.
He also characterized the odds of Atlanta’s winning 15 consecutive times against the spread as “astronomical.”
Oddsmakers have learned their lesson. In October, Atlanta was 100-to-1 to win the N.B.A. championship. Now, the Hawks are 5-to-1 at some sports books.
Whatever celebrations lie ahead for the Hawks, toasting their odds-related accomplishments is probably not one of them.
“The athletes don’t talk about A.T.S. records; they’ll only talk about the winning streak itself,” said Pete Korner, head of a Las Vegas line-making consulting firm, the Sports Club. “They don’t necessarily know what the spread is for games they play.”