Pick Home Cover as Hawks Host Heat Tonight

Jason Lake

Friday, November 14, 2014 1:14 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 1:14 PM UTC

We’ve seen some pretty good basketball thus far from the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks. But the Hawks have enough betting value to make them our NBA pick for Friday’s matchup in the Dirty South.

Jason’s record as of Nov. 12: 5-3 ATS

Profit: plus-4.58 units

It’s a good start. The Miami Heat (5-3 SU and ATS) have proved capable of playing quality basketball with “only” two All-Star players. So have the Atlanta Hawks (4-3 SU, 3-4 ATS), now that they have Al Horford back in the starting rotation next to Paul Millsap. It’s a long season, and anything can happen, but we’re looking at two teams who could do some damage in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

So which team is better? The NBA odds can’t seem to decide; Atlanta is a 3-point home favorite for Friday night’s game (7:30 p.m. ET), up from –2.5 at the open. It’s a rule of thumb that we give three points for home-court advantage when we bet on the NBA, so the market appears to value the Heat and the Hawks about the same. So do we, for that matter. But we also think Atlanta has enough betting value to make it into our NBA picks this week.


Have You Seen Me?
Most of that value is because they’re the Atlanta Hawks. It’s been a long time since Dominique Wilkins was lighting up The Omni; heck, these aren’t even Dikembe Mutombo’s Hawks. This franchise has been toiling in relative obscurity for well over a decade, and although they made the playoffs last year for the seventh time in a row, the Hawks have yet to make it past the second round.

Then you have Horford, one of the most anonymous All-Stars the NBA has ever produced. Horford played second fiddle (at least in the press) to Joakim Noah when they won back-to-back National Championships at Florida, and Horford continues to go quietly about his business with the Hawks. They made the playoffs last year even after Horford was lost for the season with a torn pectoral, but that had more to do with how bad the East was. He’s the heart and soul of this team.

And he’s back. Horford hasn’t found his scoring touch yet, posting what would be a career-low minus-1.6 OBPM (Offensive Box Plus-Minus, as per Pro Basketball Reference) through seven games. But Horford’s plus-2.1 BPM on defense in in line with his previous efforts. The scoring will come. Horford is incredibly valuable to the Hawks, who sit at No. 9 on the NBA defensive efficiency charts with 100.9 points allowed per 100 possessions.

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Bosh 3.0
Miami, meanwhile, is in the middle of the defensive pack at No. 15 overall (102.5 points allowed/100). This is a bit surprising for a team with so many quality defenders, but it has to be mentioned that Chris Andersen (plus-1.3 DBPM) has only played three games this year because of sore ribs. The Heat went 0-3 SU and ATS in those three games – not that Andersen is to blame, but Miami is still trying to fit together its post-LeBron James roster into a coherent whole.

It’s been an interesting and entertaining process. Chris Bosh (plus-3.1 BPM) and Dwyane Wade (plus-3.3 BPM) have been playing at near-MVP levels; Bosh in particular has thrived now that James is gone, putting up numbers similar to his time in Toronto, only with more 3-pointers. Shawne Williams (plus-3.6 BPM) has also been raining threes at a 47.4-percent clip, and Luol Deng (plus-1.5 BPM) has scored 16.4 points per 36 minutes, although his legendary defense still isn’t up to snuff. Combine that weakness with Atlanta’s strengths, and we have to recommend for your NBA pick a small bet on the Hawks for Friday’s contest.


The Five Stars
Depth/Travel/Rest: EVEN
Defense: ATL
Coaching: MIA
Market Bias: ATL
Betting Line Value: EVEN
Verdict: 1-star pick on ATL

NBA Pick: Bet 1.4 units on the Hawks –3 at Bookmaker

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