LeBron James and the Heat try to make it four straight wins when they play host to the surprising Hawks tonight. See why sportsbooks have made the underdog their pick.
The defending champs are favored by 9.5 points in the NBA odds, with Miami at 7-3 SU and 4-6 ATS on the season and Atlanta sitting pretty at 6-4 SU and 7-3 ATS.
We can find a total of either 205.5 or 206, with the OVER having gone 7-3 for both teams heading into tonight.
The Hawks have won two in a row and four of their last five, including two home wins over Charlotte (103-94) and the New York Knicks (110-90).
In what was Atlanta's sixth ATS cover in their past seven matchups, they hit an impressive 56.4 percent from the floor overall and broke things open in the second half. The Hawks out-scored the Knicks 56-43 after halftime en-route to a dominant 110-90 win at Madison Square Garden.
It was about as balanced of a scoring effort as you're ever going to see. Atlanta had eight different players score in double-digits, with Paul Millsap leading the way with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Shelvin Mack had 12 points and 12 assists in 24 highly productive minutes of the bench.
While it's no surprise the Heat are the league's most efficient team offensively right now, it's interesting to find the Hawks ranked number sixth in that category after finishing in the middle of the pack in that category last year.
Clearly Atlanta is taking kindly to Mike Budenholzer, while the addition of Millsap (21.83 PER) has been huge as well.
Like Atlanta, Miami enters tonight on quite a roll. They've won three in a row, two of which were by double figures, and they've also win six of their previous seven. That being said, the Heat are dealing with some heavy chalk and sportsbooks have them only going 3-4 ATS in that span.
The reigning champions have been off since Saturday's 97-81 road win over Charlotte. The visitors came in favored by eight points in the NBA odds.
With Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh ineffective, LeBron James had to take over and he did just that. He finished with 30 points on 13-of-18 shooting and added seven assists and four rebounds in close to 32 minutes of action.
The only two other members of the Heat to score in double figures were Michael Beasley (15 points on 7-of-14 shooting) and Chris Andersen, who had 10 points, seven boards and a steal off the bench.
As we mentioned, Miami currently ranks tops in the NBA in offensive efficiency, but they still have work to do defensively. They're tied with Atlanta at #14 on that end of the court.
The Heat won all four head-to-head meetings last season, while covering the spread in each victory as well. They won 98-81 (-9.5) and 101-92 (-6.5) in their two home matchups.
Nonetheless, we really like what Budenholzer has done with Atlanta and we expect them to give Miami a good fight this evening.
The Hawks do most of their damage inside with the tandem of Millsap and Al Horford, and the inside game is one glaring weakness for Miami, making this a bad matchup for the home team. Atlanta also had a point guard in Jeff Teague who can beat you off the dribble and ones who makes a lot of the right decisions.
We find it hard to believe the Heat will lose this game straight up, but this is a lot of points to get on a team that's playing confident basketball. We'll take the dogs in this NBA betting spot and make the Hawks our NBA pick.
Pick: Atlanta Hawks +9.5