The NBA schedule has no mercy as the Boston Celtics (20-22) must go right back to work after a disappointing home loss to nemesis Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks. For the most part, KG and Melo “played nice”, but an aging Celtics crew will need to be aggressive as they face Josh Smith and the Atlanta Hawks (24-18).
Tip-off is scheduled for Friday, 7:30 pm ET at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
Odds Currently Unavailable
You would think that it would be the Celtics suffering from injuries due to the fact that they are playing on little rest, but it looks as if the Hawks will be the tem hitting the court with a limp. Zaza Pachulia (tendonitis), Al Horford (Hamstring), and Devin Harris (ankle) are all question marks for this game against Boston. The NBA odds have been slow to come out, and we are expecting for the Horford decision to weigh heavily in the minds of the bookies.
We know that Atlanta will be the betting favorite in this game. My guess is that they’ll be a 4 to 6 point betting favorite without Horford and a 6 to 8 point favorite with Horford playing. Either way, I think that bettors will have the clear edge when it comes time to place their NBA picks tonight.
KG can give out advice to Jared Sullinger, and Paul Pierce can score the quietest 22 points that you’ll ever see, but this team goes as far as Rondo take’s them.
Rondo had a huge night, leading the Celtics with yet another triple-double. He might be prone to turnovers, but Rondo is the only player on this team that is in his prime. Occasionally, he’s going to have an off-game offensively, but he’s still going to get his rebounds and assists. Rondo is a tireless worker. Look for another strong effort out of Rondo against the Atlanta Hawks as he clearly dominates the point guard position.
Aside for Rajon Rondo, who had a triple double. Boston looked like an old team that showed little emotion last night. I would be surprised if we see much out of the Celts tonight on the back to back regardless of the Hawks injuries.
Rough and Ready
While the status of Al Horford unknown, one thing that the Hawks can count on is the physical style of play that Josh Smith brings to the table. Smith has major athletic ability and although inconsistent, is capable of putting up 40 on the Celtics. He might have to if his team is short-handed.
Smith is coming off of a 30 point, 13 rebound, and 8 assist effort in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. When Josh Smith is in the groove, he can be one of the best players in the NBA. The only problem is inconsistency, but I expect Smith to have a big game here under the circumstances and the fact that the Hawks are at home and have been able to rest.
Atlanta has the 6th ranked defense in the league, allowing just 95.5 points per game while the Celtics have lost 5 straight games. This spells doom for Boston.
Anything can happen in the NBA, but the Hawks have a major advantage in this game, both with or without Horford. Boston should be dragging coming into this game having been beaten by the Knicks last night. Take the Hawks and lay the points.NBA Picks: Atlanta and lay the points