Seal the Deal With the Hawks -5.5 Over Raptors for Your NBA Picks

Joe Gavazzi

Friday, February 20, 2015 3:44 PM GMT

Friday, Feb. 20, 2015 3:44 PM GMT

Our expert NBA handicapper previews this match between the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks. Come and join us to see who's our pick and the reasoning behind it. 

Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks (-5) 7:35 ET
The Toronto Raptors visit the Atlanta Hawks for a 7:35 ET tipoff. These teams enter the 2nd half of the season as the Top 2 teams in the Eastern Conference, and currently the Hawks are listed on the NBA betting odds at -5.5. Toronto claimed a pair of victories in this series by counts of 109-102 in Toronto and 126-115 in Atlanta. But, those were in the first month of the season before Atlanta hit their stride. The Hawks got their double revenge with a 110-89 victory in Toronto. Now, the venue switches to Atlanta where the Hawks (43-11 SU) have gone 25-3 SU, while Toronto (36-17 SU) has gone 15-8 SU on the road. Each of these teams has surprised the experts who believe Cleveland and Chicago would be on top of the conference at this point in time. Let’s take a closer look at these teams to see why they have ascended to the top spots in the East.

Maximize Your Profit With this Pair of Totals

Toronto’s success has been based on the offensive end of the court. The Raptors average 106 PPG, highest in the East. Success comes through PG Lowry, Lou Williams and DeMar DeRozan. Even when DeRozan missed 21 games with a groin injury, Toronto was able to survive by inserting Vasquez into the starting lineup. Though the Raptors closed the first half of the season on a 3-game winning streak, it should be noted they are just 3-6 ATS on the road of late. It will not be easy to regain their road mojo in Atlanta.

Last season, Atlanta was a modest 38-44 SU, nosing out the Knicks for the final playoff spot. This year, it appeared more mediocrity was in the offing with a 7-6 SU beginning. Since that time, the Hawks have caught fire with records of 36-5 and 22-3 SU and a more recent mark of 18-3 ATS, when not favored by more than 9 points. Atlanta did close the first half of the season on a downer with an 89-88 loss to Boston. But, the Hawks have been 7-3 ATS following a defeat this season. The reason for improvement starts at the top with HC Budenholzer.  After coaching beside San Antonio HC Popovich for 17 years, he has slowly implemented the San Antonio way. It is no surprise that Atlanta has the best defense in the conference at 96.8 PPG and has the best TO/assist ratio in the league. All of this has happened with basically the same roster as last year. They did acquire defensive ace, Sefolosha, from OKC at the start of the season.  An injured calf has forced Sefolosha to miss all of February (Hawks 3-3 SU ATS in his absence, with all losses on the road).  He is expected to return in late March. Meanwhile, the Hawks continue to dominate all opposition at this price point.  For the season to date, they are 9-0 ATS at home to -6 and more recently 11-1 ATS on this court to -11.  

Must favor defense over offense in this one, even without Sefolosha for the Hawks! The recent home form of Atlanta and their better offensive efficiency seals the deal for our NBA picks.

NBA Pick: Take Atlanta at Pinnacle

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