The Atlanta Hawks found a way to lose to New York Monday night. The basketball odds are waiting to see if the Hawks will send out their usual starting five this Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls.
Jason’s record as of Apr. 13: 69-71-5 ATS, 8-13 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML
It looks like the Atlanta Hawks are relatively content to punt the rest of the regular season. They did end up deploying most of their top talent in Monday’s home game against the New York Knicks, but that didn’t stop the Knicks from beating them 112-108 as 14-point underdogs on the NBA odds board. Atlanta came out flat and were down by as many as 17 points before rallying to tie the game, only to cough it up at the end.
As we go to press, it’s uncertain how many Hawks will be flying to Chicago for Wednesday’s matchup (8:00 p.m. ET) against the Bulls, so the NBA odds have yet to be released. But it might not matter judging by Monday’s results. Having said that, the Bulls appear to be playing it safe with their lineup, too, rather than concern themselves too much with chasing down the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.
While the Hawks (60-21 SU, 50-29-2 ATS) would ideally like to have all their players fine-tuned and working as a cohesive unit heading into the playoffs, injuries and illness – and the NYPD – have caught up to them. Paul Millsap (20.2 PER) was held out of Monday’s game with a tender shoulder, and while he did participate in Tuesday’s practice, it’s considered unlikely Millsap will face the Bulls.
This wouldn’t normally be that troublesome for our NBA picks. The Hawks have plenty of depth in the paint; they went 3-0 SU and ATS in the first three games Millsap missed, then managed a push as 9-point road dogs when they sent the B-Team out for a 108-99 loss to the Washington Wizards.
New York was a different situation. After playing in two games following his arrest as part of the Chris Copeland/Thabo Sefolosha incident, Pero Antic (9.7 PER) was a scratch against the Knicks, ostensibly because of illness. He’s already been ruled out for Wednesday. So has Mike Scott (15.1 PER), who has a back contusion and will not travel with the team. Assuming Millsap doesn’t play, that means a boatload of frontcourt minutes for Mike Muscala (18.3 PER), who’s made the most of this opportunity thus far, and Elton Brand (9.7 PER).
In theory, this should be fantastic news for fans of the Bulls (49-32 SU, 38-43 ATS) and their dominant frontline. But they’ve got their own injury concerns. Joakim Noah (15.3 PER) has the dreaded tendinitis in his left knee/hamstring, and didn’t play Monday night against the Brooklyn Nets. Noah isn’t likely to play on Wednesday, either.
Again, not that troublesome. Like the Hawks normally do, Chicago has lots of depth down low, and we saw evidence of that in Monday’s 113-86 win over Brooklyn (+2 at home). Taj Gibson (16.3 PER) got the start in Noah’s place and scored 15 points on just 5-of-6 shooting, adding nine rebounds and four blocks. Rookie of the Year candidate Nikola Mirotic (17.9 PER) had another ridiculously strong game off the bench with 26 points, hitting six of his 11 trey attempts.
The only other injury concern with the Bulls is guard Kirk Hinrich (6.8 PER), who has a hyperextended left knee, but Hinrich hasn’t played very well this year and looks like he’s done at age 34. Tony Snell (10.2 PER) appears to be a better candidate to fill that last spot in head coach Tom Thibodeau’s expected nine-man rotation for the playoffs. We’ll plug him in for Wednesday’s game, as well, and we’ll gladly add the Bulls to our basketball picks. May the sphere be with you in Game 82 and into the postseason.
NBA Pick: Take the Bulls