While the Atlanta Hawks looked pretty good Monday night, that was with their entire starting five in action. Beating the NBA odds Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons might prove a little more difficult.
Jason’s record as of Mar. 30: 64-61-5 ATS, 7-11 Totals, plus-1.15 units ML
It’s easy to forget about the Atlanta Hawks. They’ve got the best record in the Eastern Conference, having already clinched the top seed at 56-18 SU and an incredible 46-27-1 ATS. But it’s still the small-market Hawks. All the headlines belong to LeBron James, whose Cleveland Cavaliers are 1-2 favorites to win the East on the basketball odds list at Bovada. Atlanta’s four All-Stars combined don’t hold a candle to James’ gigawatt starpower.
For those of us who needed a reminder, the Hawks trotted out their regular starting lineup Monday night against the Milwaukee Bucks (+9 away), and the result was a 101-88 victory. However, it’s unlikely you’ll see Atlanta’s full complement of players in Tuesday’s matchup (7:30 p.m. ET) on the road against the Detroit Pistons. That hasn’t stopped the NBA odds from opening the Hawks as 3-point favorites at select locations.
Return of the Mack
We mentioned last week that Atlanta head coach Mike Budenholzer was planning to give his starters some much-needed rest heading into the postseason. Sure enough, Jeff Teague (20.8 PER, plus-1.8 BPM) was given the night off in Friday’s game against the Miami Heat. Atlanta still won 99-86 as an 8-point home fave; Dennis Schroder (15.6 PER, minus-2.4 BPM), a capable back-up, scored 12 points with 11 assists in Teague’s place.
The next night in Charlotte, Teague had some company. All five of Atlanta’s starters were held out as the Hawks B-Team lost 115-110 to the Hornets (–5.5 at home). Then it was all hands on deck versus Milwaukee. What can we expect for Tuesday? Well, Schroder appeared to suffer a dislocated toe Monday night, but early indications are that Teague will sit out against the Pistons anyway. That would leave Shelvin Mack (12.2 PER, minus-3.9 BPM) to start at point guard for Atlanta.
It’s Reggie Time
Before we all go stampeding toward the pay window with wheelbarrows of cash for NBA picks on the Pistons (28-45 SU, 36-37 ATS), let’s take a look at what we’re dealing with here. After losing 10 straight games and falling way behind in the Eastern playoff race, Detroit has gotten back on the good foot lately at 5-2 SU and ATS. Interestingly, all seven of those games were without Greg Monroe (21.1 PER, plus-1.6 BPM), who’s hobbled by a knee injury and has already been ruled out for Tuesday. Monroe could be shut down for the remainder of the season.
In Monroe’s place, the Pistons have been starting Anthony Tolliver (11.9 PER, plus-0.1 BPM) at power forward, which isn’t exactly an upgrade. But this appears to have opened things up for center Andre Drummond (21.3 PER, minus-0.3 BPM), who’s been putting up some monster numbers of late. Point guard Reggie Jackson (19.9 PER, plus-3.2 BPM) is doing the same from the backcourt, now that he gets to flex his offensive muscles a little more.
Two’s a Crowd
Meanwhile, Tayshaun Prince (11.4 PER, minus-1.7 BPM) has been relegated to a bench role after getting in seven starts in his return to the team where he won an NBA title in 2004. Could this be the version of the Pistons that they should stick with going forward? We were always complaining about how crowded the Detroit frontcourt was with Josh Smith (14.3 PER, plus-1.2 BPM) alongside Drummond and Monroe. Maybe getting rid of Smith wasn’t enough.
Whatever the case, Detroit’s got something good going right now, and the Hawks are very likely going to have their third-string point guard handle the offense Tuesday night. We’re happy to recommend the NBA odds favored Pistons if that’s the case, and may the sphere be with you.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Pistons -4.5 at 5Dimes (if Teague and Schroder sit)