Both the Clippers and Hawks are enjoying fantastic seasons so far, but you may be surprised to know it's Atlanta that has the better record. Who should we back with our NBA picks tonight?
After opening up at 5.5 at some sportsbooks, the line has moved slightly down to 5, with the Clippers the NBA odds favorites inside the Staples Center.
Oddsmakers are expecting little defense to be played here: we can currently find a total of 209.5, one of the highest numbers of the entire Monday slate.
Los Angeles Clippers
Yes, the Clippers have won three games in a row and appear to be one of the teams to beat in the Western Conference, but they haven't been nearly as dominant as we expected they'd be. Their wins in this little streak of theirs came over some pretty weak competition in the form of the Jazz, Knicks and 76ers, to boot.
Everyone knew LA would crush Philadelphia the other night, and that notion came to fruition in the Clippers' 127-91 victory at home. Chris Paul made quick work of the 76ers, piling up 24 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds and two steals in just 28 minutes of action. The Clippers shot 54.5 percent from the field and hit 15 threes in the blowout win. Six different players scored in double figures for Doc Rivers' team.
The same problems, however, continue to plague the Clippers. They've had little trouble putting the ball in the hoop, but their lackluster performances defensively have been their downfall. It's a gauntlet in the Western Conference, so LA will really need to kick into a higher gear defensively if they want to survive and make a deep run into the playoffs.
If you want to watch basketball in its purest form, you may want to check out the Hawks. They're playing better team basketball than anyone else in the NBA right now, and have subsequently won four straight and an amazing 18 of their last 20. Atlanta's now at 25-8 overall on the year and is in first place in the Eastern Conference standings as a result.
The Hawks picked up yet another impressive win two nights ago in Portland. Paul Millsap had 27 points, Jeff Teague had a 22/6/3 line, and Al Horford, DeMarre Carroll, Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic all recorded double-digit scoring in the road victory too. Everyone contributed in a great team win, as Atlanta crushed Portland in terms of points in the paint (64-38) and simply made the necessary plays down the stretch to hold on for the W.
Whenever a team is on this kind of run, it makes it a tricky endeavor to handicap, but in the end it's mighty difficult to discount the great things Atlanta's been doing lately. The Hawks may be a little tired from this road trip, but they do have some good pieces off the bench that could help relieve those tired legs. We'll see.
If you didn't know, the Hawks are playing exceptional team basketball right now. They've been stepping it up each and every game and seem to only be getting stronger and stronger - few teams out there have as much chemistry on the court.
That's one of the main reasons we think Atlanta is worth backing with your NBA picks as the underdogs. We know what the Clippers are capable of on their day, but far too often this season they've been disappointing, primarily because of their frequent defensive lapses.
The Hawks are on a great roll right now and we don't feel comfortable is fading them during this kind of run. Watching them play recently, it's hard to imagine them not covering this spread, or even winning this game straight up. Side with Atlanta to cash in sunny Los Angeles this evening.
Free NBA Pick: Atlanta Hawks +5 at 5Dimes