Hawks vs. Celtics NBA Picks: Is Atlanta a Lock?

David Lawrence

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 12:19 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 12:19 PM GMT

Atlanta Hawks are one of the three top stories in the NBA this season. What will they be able to do tonight when they take on the Celtics? They’re laying 5.5 points according to the NBA odds.

The Atlanta Hawks Can Win Because…
There is no better team in the Eastern Conference right now. The Detroit Pistons join the Hawks as one of two teams in the East that have gone 9-1 over their last 10 games, but the Hawks beat the Pistons in Detroit during that span of time, so they’re the hottest team in the East. Moreover, they entered Tuesday night with a four-game lead in the East, leading Toronto, Washington and Chicago by that margin. The Hawks are just putting it together in all aspects of competition. They are 13-5 on the road, so playing away from Atlanta is not a hardship for this team. The Hawks play excellent defense, limiting opponents to only 97.2 points per game. They have a positive point differential of 5.8 points per game. They have won eight games in a row, and they have beaten really good teams in the process. They’re not just fattening up on meager opponents. Atlanta cooled off Detroit, but it also beat Memphis, the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland, Cleveland, and the Clippers a second time. This team is thriving, getting well-rounded contributions from likely All-Star Paul Millsap, role player Kyle Korver, point guard Jeff Teague, and frontcourt rock Al Horford.

The Hawks should also win this game because Boston is 3-7 in its last 10 games. The Celtics are a weak defensive team, allowing 103.8 points per game, 27th in the NBA. Boston has not been able to contain opponents, especially with Rajon Rondo now off the roster and in Dallas with the Mavericks. The Celtics are missing Rondo’s defense at the point. 

 

The Boston Celtics Can Win Because…
They can score, even though their defense is an issue. Boston entered Tuesday night averaging 102.6 points per game. That’s the eighth-best offense in the league. The Celtics are a curious case in that they’re in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, but they have the seventh-best point differential of any team in the conference. The Celtics’ differential is minus-1.2 points. There are five teams with positive point differentials in the East. Then comes Cleveland in sixth with a differential of minus-0.1 points. The Celtics are next, with Indiana being eighth with a minus-1.4-point differential. The Celtics, in other words, have been extremely competitive this season, or at least a lot more competitive than a 13-23 record would suggest. At some point, really close games are going to break in this team’s favor. This is not a team that has a negative differential of at least three or four points. It is not getting blown out most nights. It is on the doorstep. With Atlanta playing the second half of a back-to-back, the Hawks could be tired enough that Boston could take advantage.

 

Outlook
The Celtics will have a shot due to Atlanta playing the back end of a back-to-back, but the Hawks opened at -7 point favorite on NBA odds and have been so relentlessly consistent that it’s unwise to bet against them until they begin to fall into the slump. Also, the Hawks rested a few players like Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and DeMarre Carroll on Tuesday, so that trio should give the team a boost with their return on Wednesday.

Boston is a team that’s breaking things down for parts, trading away anyone and everything. That makes this a matchup of two teams heading in opposite directions, so take the Hawks with your NBA picks.

Free NBA Pick: Atlanta -5.5 at The Greek

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