Bet Hawks –5 over Lakers for your NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Monday, December 16, 2013 12:13 PM GMT

The Los Angeles Lakers finally got their first win of the season with Kobe Bryant in the lineup. That Atlanta Hawks will try to kill that buzz and beat the NBA lines on Monday.

Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to December 13 inclusive:

23-23 ATS

5-5 Totals

Kobe Bryant is finally off the schneid. The former league MVP got his first win of the season, nearly registering a triple-double to lead his Los Angeles Lakers to an 88-85 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats (–3 at home) on Saturday. That was also the first time the Lakers (11-12 SU, 13-9-1 ATS) managed to beat the NBA odds in four games since Bryant made his season debut. Time to plan another title parade~!

Ah, sweet sarcasm. But if Bryant continues to play his way into game shape and get his teammates involved, the Lakers could be worth your continued basketball betting support. They’ve got a very good test coming up on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks (12-12 SU, 13-11 ATS), the only other Eastern Conference team besides Indiana and Miami without a losing record. Atlanta opened as a 5-point home chalk on the NBA betting lines with a total of 206.5.

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Charlotte Sometimes

We were wondering what the Lakers would look like without any point guards, and they sure looked awful against the Oklahoma City Thunder, losing 122-97 as 1.5-point road dogs. But the Bobcats, improved though they might be, are a big step down from the Thunder in quality. Bryant had another seven turnovers against Charlotte, which figures to be an ongoing issue as he (a) shakes off the ring rust, and (b) acts as L.A.’s de facto point guard, with SG Jodie Meeks (44.1 percent from downtown) starting as the off-guard.

There’s one other big problem with the Lakers, though, and he stands seven feet tall. Center Pau Gasol (15.2 PER) is having the worst season of his 15-year NBA career, and as gracefully as many of these Euro big men have been aging, it’s very unlikely Gasol will ever regain his former All-Star touch. There will be games where he puts up the old numbers, but those games will be fewer and further between.

Inside Out, Outside In

When you’re having issues at point guard and center, you’re going to have a hard time winning in the NBA. Oklahoma City is a solid team both inside and outside; Charlotte is a little less imposing with the duo of PG Kemba Walker and center Al Jefferson, but the Bobcats nearly won anyway. Now L.A. has to deal with another quality combo in PG Jeff Teague (16.6 PER) and center Al Horford (21.2 PER), who will be flanked by Jefferson’s former teammate in Utah, PF Paul Millsap (19.8 PER).

Quality indeed, but the Hawks as a whole are playing at roughly the level you’d expect from a .500 team. They’re No. 15 out of the 30 NBA clubs in offensive efficiency (101.5 points per 100 possessions) as we go to press, and No. 12 in defense (101.2 points allowed/100). In terms of raw point differential, Atlanta is minus-1. For the entire season. The Hawks have scored 2,309 points and allowed 2,391. One guess what their Pythagorean record is right now.

Fade Into You

The Hawks have also dropped the cash in each of their last three games at 1-2 SU, with the lone win coming in overtime against the Washington Wizards (+6 away). Horford made a couple of free throws send the game to overtime, then scored the deciding bucket with no time left in the first extra frame to win 101-99.

I wouldn’t put too much stock in this mini-slump. Every season has its ups and downs, and there’s no particularly glaring rhyme or reason to Atlanta’s betting patterns. My general intentions are to keep fading the Lakers until they have demonstrated some consistent success with Bryant back in the lineup. Those intentions hold up with the Hawks playing host on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET).

NBA Pick: Take the Hawks –5 (–105) at Pinnacle