NBA Picks for Tonight's Heat vs. Hawks

Matthew Jordan

Monday, January 20, 2014 2:20 PM GMT

The Atlanta Hawks might be the third-best club in the Eastern Conference. Yipeee! It's not like the team has any shot of beating Miami or Indiana in the playoffs but the Hawks face the Heat on Monday night in what certainly could be an Eastern Conference semifinals preview.

Miami opened as a 5.5-point road favorite on NBA odds with a total of 203. We look at the numbers on offer in hopes of locating an angle worth exploiting with our NBA picks tonight.

[gameodds]5/253151/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

London Calling

Atlanta (21-18 ATS, 23-16 O/U at sportsbooks) enters off the longest road trip of the season distance-wise as the Hawks were blasted in London by Brooklyn 127-110 on Thursday -- a game in which I recommended the Nets and the over. On the bright side, no Hawks player played more than 29  minutes so they certainly shouldn't be tired for this game unless they had too much Guinness over there. That's what you get with the Hawks and has been the case really since Dominique Wilkins left. They have been stuck in NBA purgatory forever. Good enough to beat the best teams on a given night but also mediocre enough to lose to anyone.

Atlanta's best player, center Al Horford, is out for the season so you've got guys like Elton Brand and Mike Scott playing a lot of minutes when they probably shouldn't be. Pero Antic has become the starting center and he returned Thursday from missing a game with injury and had 11 points and five rebounds. Probably the most noteworthy aspect of Thursday's game was that Kyle Korver was just 1-for-9 from the field for three points. But that one was a 3-pointer, extending his NBA to 108 straight games with a three. That's really one of those who cares records and it's all Korver does well.

The Hawks did play Thursday's game without starting swingman DeMarre Carroll (9.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg), who was out with his wife giving berth. He'll be back for this one, moving Lou Williams back to a sixth man role.

Will Wade Go?

The one problem betting on the Heat (18-22 ATS, 24-16 O/U at sportsbooks) this season is you never know when Coach Erik Spoelstra might decide to give Dwayne Wade the night off to rest those troublesome knees for the playoffs. This could be one of those nights because the Heat play again Tuesday night at home against Boston. Coaches generally try to not rest their guys at home because obviously it's not good marketing. However, Wade did get Saturday's 104-96 overtime win at Charlotte off so he should be in there. Maybe LeBron James gets the night off after playing 45 minutes against the Bobcats. He was typically awesome with 34 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Chris Bosh had 25 points, his season-high third straight game with at least 20.

Ray Allen started in place of Wade and former cadaver Greg Oden actually saw action for the second straight game. Fellow big man Chris Andersen also sat out with a knee injury, his third straight game missed. Miami improved to 24-1 this season when holding opponents below 100 points. That lone loss? Dec. 10 at Indiana, 90-84.

Be sure to check out our NBA Picks of the Day article for more free plays.

Season Series

This is the third of four regular-season meetings. On Nov. 13 in Miami the Heat were 8.5-point favorites on NBA odds with a total of 203 and beat Atlanta 104-88. Wade sat that one out and LeBron had just 13 points. Atlanta was without Paul Millsap, now arguably the team's best player with Horford out. Only one Hawks starter reached double-digit points and they turned it over a whopping 24 times. Seven of those were by Horford. On Dec. 23 also in Miami, the Heat were 7.5-point favorites on NBA odds with a total of 206.5 and won 121-119 in overtime. Atlanta blew a seven-point lead with 1:40 left in regulation. LeBron had 38 in Miami's ninth straight win over Atlanta. Wade missed that one too.

NBA free pick: Atlanta +5.5 and the over. The Hawks will get geared up for Miami's first visit of the season and there will be a rare sellout crowd at Philips Arena. The Heat have covered just once in their past seven following an ATS win but have covered seven straight in Atlanta.