NBA Picks: Bucks +9.5 vs. Hawks

Joe Catalano

Thursday, March 13, 2014 12:41 PM GMT

Jeff Teague and the Atlanta Hawks host the lowly Milwaukee Bucks tonight. Although the Hawks are just 27-35, this game has playoff implications as the Hawks currently hold down the number 8 spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Playoff Situation

Atlanta definitely has the advantage here and will need a win as the New York Knicks have won 5 straight games and are just 3 games behind the Hawks with 20 games remaining in the season.

Crawling To the End

After losing 8 out of 9 games, the Hawks finally won one as they defeated the Utah Jazz 112-110 on Monday. Utah is a very weak team and Atlanta was lucky that the level of opposition was so low. The Hawks defense is their downfall. They rank 23rd in the league, allowing 102.6 points per game. If not for such a weak Eastern Conference, the Hawks would have no chance at the playoffs.

Korver To the Rescue

Kyle Korver is known as a 3-point specialist, but not as an overall team leader. Lately, Korver has been picking up his level of play. He’s averaged 21.5 points and 3.5 assists while shooting a perfect 7 for 7 from 3-point range in his last 2 games. Atlanta won’t go anywhere if Korver is the main source of offense.

With Al Horford out, the responsibility rests upon the shoulders of Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague. Millsap is coming back from an injury himself and has averaged 17.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in the 3 games since he’s been back. He’s coming off of a big game against Utah and expect Paul Millsap to play well against Milwaukee.

Jeff Teague has been cold as of late and part of the reason why Atlanta has been losing. He’s averaging 10.5 points in his last 4 games and in that period of time, hasn’t shot over 33.3 % in any of those games. Teague is very inconsistent, but he must be more efficient or Milwaukee can steal this game from the Hawks.

Bottom Feeders

Even though the Philadelphia 76’ers will be at the bottom of the Eastern Conference when all is said and done, the Bucks are currently last. This is a team with some serviceable players, but injuries have been a key factor why they haven’t been able to get on track.

Milwaukee will look for its leading scorer, Brandon Knight, to lead the way offensively tonight. Knight was somewhat of a castoff with the Detroit Pistons, but has found a home in Milwaukee. He’s playing some of his best basketball of the season lately. In his last 5 games, Knight is averaging 22 points and 4.6 assists per game.

Khris Middleton is another player that has played very well, but has gotten very little recognition. Middleton is averaging 16.6 points and has shot 46.2 % from 3-point territory in his last 2 games. These are players with offensive talent and if the game is close, it works to Milwaukee’s advantage as they’re both 80% plus free throw shooters.

Take a look at the top NBA Futures/Championship Betting Lines

Outcome

Bet 365 Sportsbook lists the Hawks as a hefty 9.5 point betting favorite and the total for the game is 209.

Even though Atlanta beat an inexperienced Utah Jazz team, the Hawks are very weak without Horford and they shouldn’t be a 9.5 point favorite over any team except the 76’ers. Take the Bucks and the points.

Pick - Milwaukee +9.5 at Bet 365

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