NBA Picks: Bulls vs. Hawks

Jeff Grant

Saturday, February 2, 2013 2:44 PM GMT

Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 2:44 PM GMT

The Chicago Bulls will likely be shorthanded in closing out a back-to-back situation Saturday night, as they take on the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena.  Let’s take a closer look at this Eastern Conference affair.

Playing with eight

Chicago wasn’t able to muster up enough energy in the fourth quarter Friday night, as it suffered a 93-89 setback to the Brooklyn Nets as five-point road underdogs, while going OVER the total for a second consecutive contest.  The Bulls only played eight players due to numerous injuries to key players, including Carlos Boozer (hamstring) and Joakim Noah (foot).  The franchise is 2-10 against the spread when playing on Saturday, with the UNDER cashing in each opportunity.

Hawks should be ready

Atlanta has won four of its last five games, including a come-from-behind 93-92 victory over the Toronto Raptors as seven-point home favorites last time out, while going UNDER the total for the first time in five affairs.  The Hawks currently own a three-game home winning streak, which has been made possible by overcoming a double-digit deficit in each contest.  

Points may be hard to come by

Sports bettors will certainly be interested in looking at the betting total when it’s released on the SBR odds page, considering the UNDER has cashed in the last four games in this series, which includes just 155 combined points in the last meeting.  Chicago earned a 97-58 victory as 4.5-point home favorites in that affair on Jan. 14, as it limited Atlanta to a franchise-low 20 first-half points.

A lot of minutes for role players

As mentioned already, the Bulls will likely have a limited roster once again, which doesn’t bode well when they’ve gone 0-4 ATS in their last four games when their five starting players combine for more than 160 minutes the previous day.  It’s still important to note that the Hawks have failed to cover the number in all six of their games when playing with two days rest, but they’ve managed to win four of those in straight-up fashion.

Perimeter play

The Hawks have set a franchise record by connecting on 10-plus 3-point field goals in five consecutive games, which could be the difference Saturday.  Chicago figures to have a hard time trying to guard Al Horford and Josh Smith in the paint without a couple key inside players—opening up the perimeter for the likes of forward Kyle Korver.  

[gameodds]5/211161/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Hawks as one of their free NBA picks, as the favorite has covered the spread in four consecutive meetings in this series, while the Bulls have fallen short in their last four tries on zero days rest.

NBA Free Picks:  Atlanta Hawks -7

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