NBA Picks: Celtics vs. Hawks

Steven Suarez

Saturday, January 5, 2013 4:58 PM GMT

These two teams haven't met since the opening round of last season's Eastern Conference playoffs. Tonight the Hawks are favored by almost five points – are we backing them to cover the spread?

Celtics vs. Hawks

Odds Overview

The Celtics are getting 4.5 points at some books and 5 at others, including 5Dimes and BetOnline. Neither team is doing well ATS this season, with Boston at 11-19-2 ATS and Atlanta at 13-17-1 ATS.

If you want to make a NBA pick on the total, you can find it at 187.5 at most outlets. However, act fast and you'll locate an O/U of 189.5 at Bookmaker

Boston Celtics

Doc Rivers and the Celtics desperately needed a win to break their four-game losing run and they were able to get one last night at home against Indiana. Final score: 94-75.

It was one of the best all-around performances from Boston this season. Even though George Hill was out for the Pacers, the Celtics still dominated from start to finish and were able to hold Indiana to 31.8 percent shooting.

Offensively, Rajon Rondo logged 18 points, seven assists and five boards and Kevin Garnett had 18 points and seven rebounds in only 24 minutes. He was tossed for a flagrant foul in the fourth quarter and there's a small chance he could be suspended for the play. Make sure you know if KG will be out there before making your final play.

The Celtics are happy to have Avery Bradley back and in the starting lineup. He's insanely athletic and is a terrific defender, leaving Rivers no choice but to demote Jason Terry back to a bench role.

Perhaps this win over a solid Indiana team could be just what the doctor ordered for Boston. It's about time they went on a run, but the road hasn't been kind whatsoever. The Celtics are a miserable 1-8 ATS in their past nine road contests.

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks return home from a small three-game road trip, which saw them beat New Orleans and lose to Houston and Detroit.

Yes, Atlanta fell to the Pistons 85-84 last night, failing to cover as 1.5-point odds favorites. The Hawks were out-rebounded 56-38 and were out-scored 52-34 in the paint. They had a ton of trouble dealing with Greg Monroe, Jason Maxiell and Austin Daye.

For the Hawks, Al Horford was a man among men. He had 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting and also recorded 15 rebounds and three assists. Josh Smith added 20 points and Lou Williams (17 points, eight assists, three boards) was effective on the perimeter.

Despite the loss, Atlanta is 5-2 SU (4-3 ATS) over their last seven games and they're not going to need any extra motivation against Boston. These guys hate each other.

The key to a Hawks win will be the tandem of Smith and Horford. KG may be one of the best inside defenders around, but he's not going to be able to stop both of Atlanta's big men. The Hawks would be wise to get those two in the mix early and often.

[gameodds]5/133641/19-169-999996-1096-349/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick

It’s a tough call. The Celtics are just 4-11-1 ATS on the road this season, but the Hawks are 5-10-1 ATS on their own floor. No advantage there.

Atlanta has been performing at a much higher level, but who knows what that win for Boston last night will do for their confidence. As a result we are inclined to stay away from a pick on the spread.

We do like the UNDER tonight. The Hawks are tied for sixth in defensive efficiency (99.9 points per 100 possessions) thus far, while the Celtics have been much better defensively than they have been on the other end. They're currently #11 in efficiency.

All of the playoff games between these teams were gritty and points were extremely hard to come by. We're looking for more of the same tonight between these familiar foes.

Pick: UNDER 189.5 at Bookmaker