The Atlanta Hawks aren’t dominating the NBA odds the way they did earlier in the year. Maybe a trip to Staples to face the Los Angeles Lakers will help Atlanta get back on track – but L.A. won’t lay down for anyone.
Jason’s record as of Mar. 13: 50-46-4 ATS, 5-8 Totals
People seem to have forgotten about the Atlanta Hawks already. As we go to press, the Hawks (51-14 SU, 42-22-1 ATS) are 10 games ahead of the pack in the Eastern Conference. However, the NBA odds at Bovada have Atlanta pegged at 15-2 to win the title, behind the 2-1 Cleveland Cavaliers and two other teams. No respect, I tell ya.
Maybe the Hawks are exactly where they should be. Since going on that 19-game winning streak at 16-3 ATS, Atlanta is still racking up victories at a reasonable 11-6 clip, but the NBA odds have flattened out at 8-8-1 ATS. While the market for the Hawks has stabilized, the Los Angeles Lakers (17-47 SU, 29-31-4 ATS) have covered eight of their last 10 games at 4-6 SU. These two teams collide Sunday night at Staples; tip-off is 9:30 p.m. Eastern, with Atlanta laying 8.5 points at press time.
The Korver 3
As nice as it would have been for the Hawks to keep paying us off, that bubble had to burst at some point. We tried to get our fade on earlier this month when the Hawks (+1.5) hosted the Cavaliers, and it almost worked, as Kyle Korver (15.0 PER) had another cold shooting night at 2-of-7 from long distance. But the Cavs turned into a pumpkin in the fourth quarter and lost 106-97.
Things have improved considerably for Korver since then. After a much-needed maintenance day, Korver is 14-of-19 in his past three games, lifting his 3-point accuracy back to 50.4 percent. But Jeff Teague (21.2 PER) is still mired in a slump, scoring just eight points in each of the last two Hawks games, and Atlanta’s depth will be tested now that Mike Scott (15.2 PER) is out indefinitely with a broken toe.
That ‘70s Team
The Hawks have already clinched a playoff spot in the East, but the Lakers are going to miss the postseason for the second year in a row – something that hasn’t happened since the Ford Administration. If you’ve been following along with us lately, you know the story with Los Angeles: No Kobe Bryant (17.7 PER) plus no Nick Young (14.3 PER) equals profit.
Or at least it did until this past Thursday. We had the Lakers in our NBA picks as 6.5-point favorites (–7 at the close) against the visiting New York Knicks, who spoiled our plans by dressing Tim Hardaway Jr. and letting him score 22 points in a 101-94 victory. Los Angeles also came up dry from long range at 5-of-18. Mule muffins.
Not Sorry for Jabari
Otherwise, there wasn’t anything in this performance to be alarmed about. Hardaway is capable of heating up occasionally, and as Korver can tell you, sometimes those 3-pointers just don’t find the net. Six different Lakers scored in double figures against New York. Robert Sacre (11.1 PER) was a DNP for the third game in a row. And nobody else got hurt for Los Angeles. If you liked the reasoning behind following the Lakers before, you should still like it now.
There is one interesting curve to take into consideration. Shooting guard Jabari Brown made his NBA debut against the Knicks, coming off the bench for 18 minutes and scoring seven points on 3-of-6 shooting. Brown was the leading scorer in the D-League this year before signing a 10-day with the Lakers, and with Young already confirmed out for Sunday’s matchup, we can expect Brown to get another crack at making an impression against Atlanta. His aggressiveness mirrors the way L.A. has played of late. Will it pay off for us with Sunday's NBA picks? We’ll find out.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Lakers +8 at Pinnacle