NBA Picks: Hawks Young Lineup Won't Deliver, Lock Celtics +3.5

Jason Lake

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 11:42 AM GMT

The Atlanta Hawks have hit the skids after a strong start. But can the Boston Celtics beat the NBA odds this Tuesday night after their blue-chipper came up lame?

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Nov. 23: 3-4 ATS

 

On second thought, maybe the Atlanta Hawks will be just fine. The prevailing wisdom here at the ranch was that DeMarre Carroll's departure would make it difficult for the Hawks to reach their already-high expectations for 2015-16. Instead, Kent Bazemore (15.8 PER, +1.2 BPM) has seamlessly taken over Carroll's glue-guy role in the starting lineup. Atlanta won eight of its first 11 games this year, albeit at 5-5-1 ATS. Expectations were met.

And then Bazemore sprained his right ankle. That was back on Nov. 15 versus the Utah Jazz, who went on to win 97-96 as 3-point road dogs. The Hawks have dropped two of three since then, SU and ATS, and it'll be a challenge to beat the NBA odds this Tuesday (8:00 p.m. ET, TNT) when they host the Boston Celtics. Boston opened as a 4-point puppy before moving to +3.5 at press time, with 60 percent of early bettors on the C's.

 

Summer Teeth
It's possible that Bazemore will suit up for this game. There isn't a timetable for his return, only that it'll be “soon,” according to the man himself. However, Bazemore and Tiago Splitter (11.6 PER, –3.4 BPM) both missed Monday's practice. It's not worth rushing Bazemore back into action; Thabo Sefolosha (15.5 PER, +1.5 BPM) is just as capable of holding down that spot, although you get more defense and less offense with Sefolosha.

The problem is further down the bench. Justin Holiday (7.2 PER, –3.8 BPM) has taken a step back since leaving the Golden State Warriors to sign a multi-year deal with Atlanta. Lamar Patterson (6.7 PER, –3.7 BPM) made his pro debut in Turkey last year and signed with the Hawks after a good Summer League performance. Summer is over. If Holiday and/or Patterson play significant minutes Tuesday night, Atlanta's chances of covering will be slimmer.

 

You Are Not So Smart
Not that the Hawks should care about whether they're going in your NBA picks – developing their younger players is somewhat higher on their agenda. The Celtics (7-6 SU and ATS) are a textbook example of what can happen when you go all the way into the tank and give a bunch of young prospects as much playing time as they can handle. Boston is third in the NBA in defensive efficiency at 95.0 points allowed per 100 possessions, and hanging in there on offense at No. 14 overall (101.6 points/100).

Unfortunately for the Celtics, Marcus Smart (10.5 PER, +0.4 BPM) won't be providing any defense for the next two weeks or so. Smart suffered a proximal tibiofibular subluxation – or “tibfib” as all the kids are calling it – in Friday's 120-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets (+9 away). Brooklyn won the back end of their home-and-home on Sunday, beating the Smart-less Celtics 111-101 as 5.5-point home dogs. We'll take the C's anyway, but keep that bet small, and may the sphere be with you.

Free NBA Pick: Celtics +3.5 (–105) at Heritage

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