NBA Picks: Hawks vs. Spurs

Jason Lake

Monday, December 2, 2013 1:26 PM GMT

Are the good times over for the San Antonio Spurs? They’ve dropped two of three against the NBA lines as they prepare to host the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.

Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to November 30 inclusive:

13-15 ATS

4-1 Totals

Three games is a very small sample size. Having said that, the San Antonio Spurs (14-3 SU, 9-8 ATS) have lost two of their last three, and they’re not getting to the pay window consistently this year despite winning all those basketball games. Could the Spurs be… overvalued? Surely not our beloved, boring, sleepy small-market Spurs.

Well, how about a 100-game sample? San Antonio went 58-24 SU and 39-41-2 ATS during the 2012-13 regular season, before coming within 5.2 seconds of winning the NBA championship. If the Spurs can beat the NBA odds on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks (9-9 SU, 10-8 ATS), that payday will leave them dead even against the NBA lines over their past 100 games. San Antonio is an 11-point home chalk on the very early lines from Vegas.

Hayride to Hell

Veterans of the NBA betting game know what I’m talking about. In recent years, San Antonio has been racking up big profits for anyone who prefers cash over flash:

2011-12: 42-20-4 ATS

2010-11: 44-36-2 ATS

2009-10: 44-37-1 ATS

That all came to a grinding halt last year. Perhaps in this age of blanket information, people are no longer surprised at how the Spurs keep defying Father Time. Market expectations are no longer being exceeded. If that’s indeed that case, then there’s only one direction for this hayride to go.

Tim Duncan certainly isn’t getting any younger. As I pointed out last week when San Antonio faced the Orlando Magic, Duncan (17.4 PER) is putting up the worst numbers of his stellar 17-year career. They’re still very good numbers, and they were enough against the possibly-tanking Magic; Duncan had 19 points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes as San Antonio (–9 away) prevailed 109-91. But will it be enough against a non-tanking opponent?

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Dikembe Was Here

Speaking of small-market teams that nobody likes to watch, the Atlanta Hawks. They’ve made the playoffs the last six years, so we’re a long way from those awful post-Dikembe Mutombo clubs that drew approximately zero people to Philips Arena (okay, 15,000). But the fans are starting to come dressed as empty seats again, now that Josh “J-Smoove” Smith is playing for the Detroit Pistons.

That’s a shame, because the Hawks have quietly put together a very nice team. Getting Paul Millsap (19.6 PER) for pennies on the dollar was a masterful move by GM Danny Ferry – who cut his front-office teeth with the Spurs before building up the Cleveland Cavaliers around LeBron James. Then Ferry had another brief tour of duty in San Antonio, only to take the top job with Atlanta in 2012. Front-office stability in Atlanta? Things sure have changed.

Hawks and Doves

Millsap is exactly the kind of player the Spurs would like: the strong, silent and inexpensive type. He gives up a few inches in height to Duncan, but pair Millsap with two-time All-Star center Al Horford (20.7 PER), and you’ve got a formidable frontcourt. On the perimeter, PG Jeff Teague (18.6 PER) is developing quite nicely, and when healthy, Louis Williams (17.5 career PER) is one of the most undervalued guards in the NBA.

Williams sat out the second of back-to-back games on Saturday against the Washington Wizards, but he’s expected back in the lineup on Monday, and the Hawks are 3-2 SU and ATS in his five games off the bench this year. SF Kyle Korver (50 percent from downtown) could also play Monday after missing the Wizards game with bruised ribs. Mmmm… ribs. Where do I sign?

NBA Pick: Take the Hawks +11 at BetOnline

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