The NBA odds makers have opened this game up with Atlanta Hawks as solid -6.5 favorites, but we think the Dallas Mavericks, even off a back to back, will be primed to give the Hawks all they want and pull off the road win.
It Doesn’t Matter Where the Hawks Play
Atlanta came into the New Year playing amazing basketball. It didn’t matter where they were, home or away, they were winning. So we can rule out home court advantage as far as overall play goes. Statistically wise it is quite amazing. This year Atlanta has shot 46.7% both home AND away. There is a HUGE disparity in 3pt. shooting though, at home they are at 38.2% but on the road they are really unbelievably different at 38.3%!!! (Enter sarcastic laugh here). As well, to keep things even for this situation they shoot their best percentage from the field (47.6%) off of two days of rest but are at their worst beyond the arc in that span (32.3%). The Hawks are a machine, but even machines break down sometimes which is what we have seen lately.
What Have You Done for Me Lately
For all the sterling play the Hawks have accomplished this year, recently they have not played nearly as well. They are 4-4 in February and a have been shooting at a 43.6% clip, their lowest of the year in this time frame. Beyond the arc this past month they are only shooting 35.6% which is also well below their average. The most telling thing to us (an often overlooked stat) is their assist average which has gone down this past month from 26 a game to 22. Overall Dallas has not been better, but they have not been worse shooting 42% from the field and 37% beyond the arc, but they suffered some tough injuries prior to the break. In the past three games with everyone healthy they are shooting a solid 47% from the field.
Second Half Thoughts
The more I look into the stats and matchups the more I see the possibility of these teams heading in different directions. The last time these teams played it was only Rondo’s second game with the Mavericks. He has been a real difference maker on the defensive end for the Mavericks and could be the difference in this game (as well as the rest of the season). With Rondo on the floor the Mavs have a 106 offensive rating, without him they are at 104.9. Defensively, 98.7 with Rondo, without him 102.7. Also, Rondo has allowed 0.684 points per possession in 209 defensive possessions with the Mavericks. That mark ranks first in the NBA among players with at least 200 possessions played.
I think the NBA odds makers have put in this spot to make Atlanta the favorite due to their record and hot streak prior to the break. But with their recent decline of play beating the Mavericks for the second time this year will be tougher than it looks. Add in the fact that five out of the last six years Dallas has played a better second half of the season than the first and that they are a solid 6-4 off of back to back games makes them our plus money line NBA pick of the day.
NBA Pick: Dallas + money line at BetOnline