This NBA handicapper points out that although the Atlanta Hawks have been one of the most profitable teams so far this season, they might not be the best pick to win against the Celtics in Boston.
Hawks-Celtics Betting Odds
Most books opened Atlanta as a seven-point favorite for tonight's game, with a total of right around 203. In the early betting many shops then bumped the Hawks to -7.5 or -8, and the total to 204.
Atlanta had its 19-game winning streak snapped nine days ago in New Orleans. The Hawks then went home and beat Washington 105-96, and two night later knocked off league-leading Golden State 124-116. Sunday Atlanta suffered a bit of a letdown, losing at Memphis 94-88, but Monday it won at Minnesota 117-105. So the Hawks have lost just four games since Thanksgiving.
Atlanta slowly pulled away from the Timberwolves Monday night, and picked up a bounce-back victory/cover as a seven-point favorite. After shooting just 41 percent from the floor Sunday against the Grizzlies the Hawks shot 51 percent against the T-Wolves.
At 43-10 the Hawks lead the Eastern Conference by 7.5 games over second-place Toronto, and trail the Warriors by just a game and a half in the battle for the best record in the league.
Boston has won six of its last 11, even after losing to Milwaukee Saturday 96-93. Just before that the Celtics had won three in a row, beating New York, Denver and Philly. So it would appear as if Boston is perfectly capable of beating the bottom dwellers in this league, but playoff contenders, not so much.
The Celtics trailed the Bucks by 14 early in the third quarter Saturday night, pulled to within one point with about three minutes to go but missed a 3-pointer to tie the game at the buzzer. Boston shot just 42 percent from the floor, and made just seven of 29 shots from 3-point range, but still covered as a six-point underdog.
At 19-31 the Celtics sit in 11th place in the East, but they're just two games behind eighth-place Charlotte.
Hawks-Celtics Recent History
Atlanta has taken the first two games against Boston this season, by scores of 109-105 back in December and 105-91 in January. The Hawks trailed the Celtics in that first meeting by 22 points early in the third quarter, then rallied for the victory. Atlanta then led the second meeting by a dozen at the half, and never allowed Boston to get closer than nine points after that.
The Celtics hung on for the cover in that first meeting as seven-point road dogs, but the Hawks covered the second meeting as six-point road favorites.
Atlanta shot 51 percent from the floor in those two games combined, while Boston shot 45 percent.
Hawks-Celtics Key Stats
Before placing your NBA picks tonight, understand that Atlanta ranks second in the league in FG shooting at 47 percent, No. 1 in 3-point shooting at 39 percent and sixth in free-throw shooting at 78 percent. The Hawks also rank fifth in FG defense, holding foes to under 44 percent shooting, just 26th in rebounding at -2.6 per game but second in assists at 26 per game.
Boston ranks 17th in FG shooting at 45 percent, 15th in FG defense at 45 percent and fourth in assists at 24.5 per game, which is encouraging.
Hawks-Celtics Betting Trends
Atlanta is 18-7 SU and 19-6 ATS on the road this season.
Boston is 11-15 SU, 12-14 ATS at home.
Atlanta is 29-24 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as Hawks games have averaged 201 points.
Boston is 26-23 on the totals, as Celtics games have averaged 204 points.
Hawks-Celtics Betting Verdict
Atlanta has been great this season, and a great bet, but Boston, even after trading away a couple of key players, looks like it's making some progress. The Celtics are actually 10-2 ATS over their last 12 games, which to us indicates the NBA odds makers have been underestimating the Green as of late. So while we might normally take the road chalk in this spot, tonight we'll go with the home dog.
Free NBA Pick: Boston +8 at Bovada