Free NBA Picks: Take Visiting Hawks To Beat Struggling Bulls

Jason Lake

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 2:44 PM GMT

Injuries have made the Chicago Bulls a shadow of their former selves. It's up to the Atlanta Hawks to take advantage and beat the NBA odds Wednesday night.

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NBA Pick: Hawks -2.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 8: 20-23-1 ATS, 5-1-1 Total

 

This isn't what Fred Hoiberg signed up for. When Hoiberg took over as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls last summer, on a juicy five-year, $25-million contract, the Bulls were one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Now they're in seventh place at 27-24 SU, and easily the worst NBA pick around at 19-32 ATS. Three of last year's starters are injured. So's the guy who almost won Rookie of the Year.

The Atlanta Hawks (30-24 SU, 26-27-1 ATS) aren't exactly lighting the world on fire, either. At least they're relatively healthy going into Wednesday's matchup (8:00 p.m. ET) at the United Center. But will this be the last time we see the Hawks as we know them? Trade rumors might throw off their performance as 3-point road faves on our NBA odds board.

 

Hospital Bulls
If the Bulls were at full strength, they'd be the favorites in this matchup. FiveThirtyEight has an Elo-based spread of Chicago –3, which might be a bit much; Basketball-Reference values the Hawks almost two points higher than the Bulls on a neutral court, so somewhere around Chicago –1.5, using 3.5 points for home-court advantage. Either way, the Bulls “should” win this game at home based on the stats.

Except they won't have their All-Star. SG Jimmy Butler (22.0 PER, +4.6 BPM) is out for 3-4 weeks with a strained left knee. And they won't have center Joakim Noah (14.3 PER, +2.5 BPM), who's gone for the year with a shoulder injury. But wait, there's more: PF Nikola Mirotic (14.6 PER, +0.6 BPM) ran into some complications after having his appendix removed, so he's out for a while. Oh, and PG Derrick Rose (12.6 PER, –3.4 BPM) is day-to-day with a sore hammy, but he's expected to play Wednesday night. Yay?

 

Everything Must Go
The only guy out for the Hawks is center Tiago Splitter (14.0 PER, –1.1 BPM), but this team could still look radically different before too long. Rumor has it that center Al Horford (19.8 PER, +3.5 BPM), PG Jeff Teague (17.1 PER, –0.8 BPM) and swingman Kyle Korver (9.9 PER, –0.5 BPM) could all be on the trading block, with the deadline coming up on February 18.

The thinking is that Atlanta's brass is well aware that the Hawks are a fringe contender at best, so they'll be looking to cut bait and get something in exchange for Horford, who's about to become an unrestricted free agent. Sad, but true; B-R has Atlanta at +1.84 on the Simple Rating System, down from +4.75 SRS last year. We're still going to put the Hawks in our NBA picks this time, but if they seem a little out of sorts on Wednesday, you'll know why.