Free NBA Picks for Hawks vs. Bulls

Jason Lake

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 12:43 PM GMT

Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 12:43 PM GMT

Don’t even think about asking the Atlanta Hawks or the Chicago Bulls to tank the 2013-14 season. But which team will beat the NBA betting lines on Tuesday?

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 9 inclusive:

62-49-1 ATS

15-13 Totals

Catastrophic injuries. Lowered expectations. Stubbornness. The Atlanta Hawks and the Chicago Bulls have chartered similar courses through the 2013-14 NBA season, and 50 games in, they’ve arrived at pretty much the same point. The Hawks (25-24 SU, 26-23 ATS) are in second place in the Southeast Division behind the Miami Heat, and the Bulls (25-25 SU, 23-27 ATS) are in second place in the Central behind the Indiana Pacers.

There are some key differences, however, between these two Eastern Conference teams, and that will probably dictate who comes out on top when they meet Tuesday night (8:00 p.m. ET) at The UC. The Bulls are 2-point favorites on the NBA odds board with a total of 186.5; consensus data wasn’t available as we went to press, but it appears Chicago is getting the early action.

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Animal Crackers

Ah, those ornery Bulls. They’ve been pretty hard to wrestle down lately; since that lovely 5-0 ATS streak in early January, Chicago has failed to string together back-to-back ATS wins or losses. The one thing that’s been fairly consistent is the UNDER, which is 6-2 over the past eight games and 30-20 on the full season. Makes sense for a team that ranks No. 28 in offensive efficiency (97.3 points per 100 possessions) and No. 2 in defensive efficiency (98.1 points allowed/100).

As for the Hawks, they’ve been wavering back and forth since starting the season at 8-5 SU and 9-4 ATS. They’re 0-3 SU and ATS in their past three games, putting the kibosh on a nice 4-0 ATS streak. Again, the NBA totals have been more profitable with Atlanta, although in this case, it’s with the OVER at 30-19 on the season and 9-3 during the past dozen games. The Hawks have the NBA’s No. 13-ranked offense (103.9) and the No. 11 defense (102.4), so they’re ahead of Chicago in point differential as well as the Eastern standings.

Great Booz Up

It’s amazing the Bulls are able to hang around at all given their ever-shrinking lineup. They went 3-3 SU and ATS during their recent six-game odyssey through the West, pulling off major upsets as 7.5-point dogs over the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns. That was six games in nine days, by the way, with a roster that rarely goes more than eight deep.

In addition to the Derrick Rose injuries and the Luol Deng trade, Chicago has also had to deal with the absence of Carlos Boozer (14.5 PER). He aggravated a calf injury while warming up for Thursday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors (–6) and hasn’t played since. Taj Gibson started Thursday at power forward and put up 26 points with 13 rebounds, but the Dubs still rolled, 102-87. Gibson followed that up with 18 points and six rebounds in Sunday’s 92-86 victory against what’s left of the Los Angeles Lakers (+3).

Rent-A-Center

As we go to press, Boozer is considered questionable to play on Tuesday, so the Bulls could have some trouble against Atlanta’s frontcourt. Even with Al Horford out for the season, the Hawks were doing some damage for a while there with Pero Antic (12.3 PER) clogging up the middle, but Antic is also out for another couple of weeks with a stress fracture in his right ankle.

Good thing the Hawks also have Gustavo Ayon (12.0 PER). GM Danny Ferry has done a very good job populating the roster with useful big men, and although they’ve lost three games in a row, it was by a combined 12 points against the imposing frontlines of Indiana, New Orleans and Memphis. So I suppose I’ll pick Atlanta here without advance news on Boozer’s condition. May the sphere be with you.

NBA Pick: Take the Hawks +2.5 at Heritage

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