Free NBA Picks for Hawks vs. Clippers

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, March 8, 2014 6:56 PM GMT

The NBA odds for the matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Atlanta Hawks are out. Who should we be backing with our free picks here?

On paper, Saturday night's matchup at Staples Center looks like one of the big mismatches the rest of the NBA schedule offers as Atlanta appears to have mailed it in for the season, while the L.A. Clippers are easily playing their best basketball of the year. However, basketball isn't played on paper. The Clips opened as 13.5-point favorites on NBA odds with a total of 217 for sports bettors.

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West's Best Right Now?

This could be the ultimate definition of a letdown game for the Clippers (37-26 ATS, 36-27 O/U at sportsbooks) as they come off Thursday night's 142-94 embarrassment of the former big-brother Lakers. It was the worst loss for the Lakers since they moved from Minneapolis and the biggest win in Clipper history. Every Clipper who could play did and they all scored at least five points. Eight players reached double figures led by Darren Collison's 24. New Clippers Danny Granger and Glen Davis both had 10. The Clippers outrebounded the Lakers a whopping 64-33 with three Clippers reaching double figures in that statistic.

Collison, a point guard, is starting in a small backcourt with Chris Paul because the Clippers remain without the injured J.J. Redick (bulging disc), out indefinitely, and Jamal Crawford (calf), the possible Sixth Man of the Year. It's possible Crawford plays in this one as Coach Doc Rivers said this Thursday: "I wouldn't be surprised if he played in our next game. I don't know that. That's just my feeling."  If Crawford is back, that means taking shots away from Matt Barnes, who is playing really well of late. He's averaging 16.4 points on 61.1 percent shooting and 5.8 rebounds in the past five. Jared Dudley missed the Lakers game with back spasms and is questionable for this one. Dudley has been a massive disappointment this season and will be losing a lot of minutes with Granger and Davis around now.

The Clippers have won a season-high six straight games and the closest win was by eight: over Houston and at Phoenix. L.A. is averaging 117.2 points in the winning streak. The way the Clippers are surging and the  Thunder struggling with Russell Westbrook's return, getting the West's top seed remains doable. The Clippers are 11/2 at Bovada to win the West and -1000 to win the Pacific Division for a second straight season.

Playing Out The String

Atlanta (27-31-1 ATS, 37-22 O/U at sportsbooks entering Friday) could be the worst team to ever make the NBA's postseason simply because the teams below the Hawks in the East are so bad that they may not catch them. Atlanta took a three-game lead over No. 9 Detroit into Friday night's game at Golden State despite the fact the Hawks have lost 12 of 13 games. They needed to rally from 17 points down for that lone win, coming against the Knicks. That was the only game in the past 10 when Atlanta's opponent didn't score at least 100 points. Bovada had a prop earlier this week on whether the Hawks would make the playoffs (1/6) or not (4/1).

The Hawks were no match for Portland on Wednesday night and guard Kyle Korver's NBA record streak of consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer was snapped at 127. The team did get center Pero Antic back from injury and he had 10 points and five rebounds in 16 minutes. He had missed the previous 17 games and seems likely to slide back into the starting lineup sooner rather than later because the Hawks have been starting undersized Elton Brand at center. One positive this season for the Hawks has been the play of forward Paul Millsap. He missed a fifth straight game but Wednesday with a knee injury but did return Friday night.

2013-14 NBA Championship Betting Futures

Season Series

On Dec. 4 in Atlanta, the Hawks won 107-97 as 2.5-point underdogs for sports bettors (total was 203.5). That was the game in which Korver tied the NBA record for games with at least one 3-pointer at 89 straight.  He had 23 points and Millsap 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists. The Hawks still had the out-for-season Al Horford season then and he had 21 points and nine rebounds. The Clippers were led Blake Griffin's 24 points, but they were only 4-for-19 from 3-point range. L.A. has won two straight in this series at home. Take Los Angeles for your NBA picks.

Best Bets for your NBA Picks of the Day

NBA Free Picks: Clippers -13.5 and over 217. Could L.A. get a huge lead and pull the starters, allowing Atlanta to cover in garbage time? Maybe, but it seems less likely the Hawks put up a late fight playing their second game in two nights. The home team has covered the past five meetings. Atlanta is 1-4 ATS in its past five in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 9-4 in L.A.'s past 13 overall.