The Atlanta Hawks just got done beating the Golden State Warriors in one of the most anticipated games of the NBA regular season. Tonight, NBA odds makers have keyed the Grizzlies as favorites by 2 points.
The Atlanta Hawks Can Win Because…
They are currently one of the two best teams in the NBA. The Hawks might not be better than the Warriors overall, because Golden State is doing what it’s doing against much tougher competition in the Western Conference, but the fact that Atlanta is in the Eastern Conference really shouldn’t be taking away from what the Hawks are doing. Atlanta took on Golden State in a head-to-head matchup on Friday and beat the Warriors with a tremendous display of offensive firepower. Golden State entered that game allowing under 100 points per game but Atlanta toasted that defense for 124 points – 72 of them in the second half. In that second half, the Hawks hit 21 of 31 field goal attempts. They protected their lead by making 33 free throws, compared to just 10 for Golden State. Atlanta shot the ball better and was more active on defense. The team has the best record in the NBA, so it’s really hard to use the “Eastern Conference” argument against the Hawks. They keep beating good teams.
Memphis had won eight straight, but a very sloppy and unfocused performance on Friday night clearly ambushed the Grizzlies, who lost to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s true that as of Thursday night, the NBA will take a full week off from regular season basketball so that the All-Star Game festivities can unfold in New York. Teams know that getting a week off is going to enable them to recharge. This also means, however, that players could be distracted or emotionally fatigued, and Memphis could be running into just such a case. At any rate, Atlanta is 9-1 in its last 10, has a positive point differential of 6.9 points – second best in the league – and is 17-6 on the road. There are lots of good reasons to take the Hawks, especially after reviewing NBA odds on offer.
The Memphis Grizzlies Can Win Because…
They've appeared to have looked ahead to this game and should be ready to play their best in it.
It’s human nature: A team knows that a huge game looms on the horizon, so in the short run, it overlooks its immediate opponent, thinking it can get by with a so-so effort. The huge expenditure of energy can wait for the really good team.
This is what Memphis did against Minnesota on Friday. The Grizzlies saw a team that was 9-40 and felt they could get by with something much less than their best. The Grizz were saving up energy for this game against the Hawks. They got caught in Minnesota, but with that angering loss now behind them, they can redouble their efforts and crush Atlanta on the boards. The Hawks lost the rebounding battle to Golden State, 48-38, but because they made so many shots, rebounding wasn’t as much of a factor.
Well, Memphis allows only 95.9 points per game compared to 100.3 for Golden State, the team Atlanta just beat. The Grizzlies should force more missed shots from the Hawks and can therefore establish leverage by rebounding the ball better. This is where Atlanta is going to suffer against a Memphis team that is a strong 12-2 in its last 14 games.
Memphis has the kind of team that can expose the Hawks on the glass. After all, Golden State outrebounded Atlanta, 48-38. That figures to be one key factor. Beyond that, the Hawks just overexerted themselves in a big game against Golden State and now have to go on the road to a tough place and find a win. Memphis is 21-5 at home. Look for their defense, rebounding and home-court advantage to key their win. Take the Grizzlies here with your NBA picks here.
NBA Pick: Grizzlies -2 at Pinnacle