The Atlanta Hawks continue to be the surprise of the NBA with the second-best record in the league at 34-8 and a 13-game winning streak. Is it worth your time and money to bet on their futures odds?
Hawks Share & Defend
Atlanta's winning streak is one shy of the franchise record set in 1993-94. The Hawks beat what had a been a hot Detroit Pistons team on Monday, 93-82. That it was decided by double digits shouldn't come as a surprise as they Hawks have led by at least 10 points during each game of the winning streak and have won by at least 15 points in 10 of those 13 games. Atlanta hasn't lost since the day after Christmas and has won 27 of 29 overall. At some point, it's time to start taking this team for real. Sportsbooks finally have as the Hawks have surpassed the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers as Eastern Conference betting favorites at +220.
How does a team with no superstar manage to be this good? The Hawks certainly have some very good players. Al Horford, who was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday, has long been one of the NBA's most underappreciated players. He averages 15.2 points and 6.6 rebounds. Point guard Jeff Teague is having his best season, averaging 17.4 points and 7.4 assists. Paul Millsap has been a steal for the Hawks since they signed him as a free agent before last season, and he's averaging 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds. Then there's the deadliest pure shooter in the NBA -- sorry Steph Curry it's true -- in Kyle Korver. He's shooting a ridiculous .536 from 3-point range. That's the highest percentage for any player through 42 team games in NBA history. Korver is actually getting hotter as he is shooting 29-for-46 (.630) from 3-point range in the past seven games.
The Hawks rank No. 6 in the league in scoring at 103.3 points per game and No. 2 in assists at 25.8 per game. This might be the most unselfish team in the NBA and essentially has become San Antonio East under Coach Mike Budenholzer, a former long-time assistant in San Antonio. He and Golden State's Steve Kerr -- the only team with a better record than Atlanta -- are your NBA Coach of the Year favorites. Atlanta assists on a league-high 68.1 percent of its field goals, which would be the best mark in the NBA since 2003-04.
In addition, this is a great defensive team, leading the NBA in points allowed per game at 96.6. The Hawks and Trail Blazers are the only two teams to rank in the Top 10 in scoring offense and defense (the Warriors lead in scoring but are 14th in defense). That defense was on display against Detroit as the Pistons shot only 35.4 percent overall and were held to a season-low 12 points in the first quarter.
If there's one weakness Atlanta has it's in rebounding as the team ranks just 25th in that category at 41.0 per game. The Hawks are awful on the offensive glass, pulling down just 8.5 per night (29th). They had just five offensive boards against Detroit -- first coming late in the third quarter -- yet have won a crazy 10 games this season when grabbing five or fewer offensive rebounds. That's by far the most in the NBA. When LeBron James was with the Miami Heat, they were never a good rebounding team and they turned out OK so perhaps it's an overrated statistic.
Atlanta is 31-11-0 against the NBA betting spread this season, the best mark in the league. It is 21-20-1 'over/under' on NBA odds.
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When Will Streak End?
Of course the longest winning streak in NBA history is 33 games by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, and I think that's quite safe. Atlanta will be a solid favorite at sportsbooks for Wednesday's home game with Indiana, a team the Hawks have beaten by 10 and 18 points already this season. The next five after that are home as well: Friday vs. Oklahoma City, Sunday vs. Minnesota, Jan. 28 vs. Brooklyn, Jan. 30 vs. Portland and Jan. 31 vs. Philadelphia. Obviously those Thunder and Blazers games will be a challenge. Atlanta hasn't played the Thunder yet but did win 115-107 in Portland on Jan. 3. If you are wondering, the Hawks haven't yet played the Warriors but host them Feb. 6. The Warriors are +450 favorites on NBA odds to win the NBA title. Atlanta is fourth at +700.
NBA Free Picks: I don't see the Hawks winning the East but certainly could reach the conference finals. Oklahoma City ends the winning streak at 14 on Friday as long as the Thunder are fully healthy then.