The Atlanta Hawks aren’t beating up the NBA odds these days like they were in January. And they could be missing a few good men when they host the Miami Heat Friday night. What’s the plan in the Dirty South?
Jason’s record as of Mar. 25: 61-55-4 ATS, 5-11 Totals, plus-2.15 units ML
The Atlanta Hawks don’t have much work left to do this regular season. They’ve already clinched first place in the Southeast at 54-17 SU and 44-26-1 ATS. They’ve also got an eight-game lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference standings, with just nine games left to go for Cleveland. So you can excuse the Hawks if they don’t give it the proverbial 110 percent between now and the postseason.
That goes double for Atlanta’s upcoming stretch of four games in five nights, which tips off Friday (7:30 p.m. ET) when the Miami Heat come to town. Head coach Mike Budenholzer has already told radio listeners at 92.9 FM The Game that he’s probably going to give his players some time off here and there. So how should this affect our NBA picks this week? It’s a tricky situation, especially with the NBA odds for Friday’s game on hold as we go to press.
We might not know exactly which players are going to sit out which games, but if you look at how the Hawks have performed this year with any of their starting five on the shelf, there’s one guy they can’t seem to do without: DeMarre Carroll (15.0 PER, plus-2.6 BPM). You may recall way back in November when Carroll missed four games with a groin injury. Atlanta went 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS in those four games, then started winning upon his return.
But that’s not all. Carroll sat out another six games later in the year, and the Hawks went 5-1 SU and 2-3-1 ATS. Conveniently enough, one of those games was on Feb. 28 against the Heat. Carroll, Al Horford (20.9 PER, plus-3.6 BPM) and Jeff Teague (20.8 PER, plus-1.8 BPM) were all given the night off as Atlanta won 93-91, creating a push as a 2-point road dog. Pero Antic (9.6 PER, minus-2.5 BPM) also missed that game for the Hawks, as did the injured Thabo Sefolosha (13.6 PER, plus-1.7 BPM).
Giving Horford and Teague time off hasn’t been a problem for Atlanta this year. Millsap has always played when Horford hasn’t, and vice versa. Plus, the Hawks have a quality back-up point guard in Dennis Schroder (15.3 PER, minus-2.6 BPM). But they don’t have any other small forwards besides Carroll, unless you include Sefolosha as a swingman. He’s back from his injury, by the way; Sefolosha put in seven minutes of work in Wednesday’s 95-83 win over the Orlando Magic (+9 at home).
‘Cause I’m Mr. Whiteside
On the other side of the coin, the Heat (33-38 SU, 32-35-4 ATS) were already a mess of injuries when they faced Atlanta on Feb. 28, and they could be even worse off when Friday rolls around. Hassan Whiteside (26.4 PER, minus-1.3 BPM) picked up a nasty cut on his right hand Tuesday night and is listed as questionable for Friday. He had 14 points and 24 rebounds in that game against the Hawks.
Chris Andersen (16.0 PER, plus-1.3 BPM) wasn’t needed on Feb. 28, but he’s also questionable for Friday with a calf injury, which could really put Miami in a bind if Whiteside’s not able to play. Both big men were absent for Wednesday’s matchup with the Boston Celtics, as was Dwyane Wade (22.4 PER, plus-2.1 BPM), and yet the Heat still managed to beat Boston 93-86 as 8.5-point road dogs. Things don’t always turn out the way you’d expect.
Wade is likely to suit up Friday night, but again, we don’t know about all these other guys. As always, wait for the shootaround before opening up those wallets and/or purses, but since we don’t have that luxury here at the ranch, we’re recommending the UNDER, which is 6-1 in Miami’s last seven games and should get a boost from Atlanta’s maintenance program.
Free NBA Pick: Take the UNDER