The NBA odds-on favorite tonight, the Atlanta Hawks, played their B-Team Sunday in Washington. Will they do the same when they return home for Monday night’s matchup against the Knicks?
Jason’s record as of Apr. 12: 69-68-5 ATS, 8-13 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML
It didn’t take a rocket surgeon to see this was going to happen. The Atlanta Hawks have nothing left to play for during the regular season, other than getting some of their bench players some valuable minutes before the playoffs. So that’s what the Hawks did in Sunday’s road game against the Washington Wizards. All five starters were given the day off as Atlanta lost 108-99 – still good enough for the Hawks to cover as 9.5-point puppies, or push at +9, depending on where you get your NBA odds.
Will we see more of the Atlanta Hawks scrubs in Monday’s matchup (7:30 p.m. ET, MSG) with the New York Knicks? Maybe not so much. This is a home game for the Hawks, and early indications from head coach Mike Budenholzer were that he’d revert to his usual lineup. Even before NBA odds were released for this matchup, we look forward assuming Atlanta will be gunning for bear.
I Am Thabo Sefolosha
Which still leaves one pertinent question: Will Paul Millsap (20.2 PER) be included in Monday’s mix? Millsap has missed four games with a shoulder contusion and is considered questionable to face the Knicks, although his availability for the playoffs doesn’t appear to be a concern. Mike Scott (15.1 PER) has played very well in Millsap’s absence, dropping 19 points on the Wizards and another 20 on the Brooklyn Nets last Wednesday, so maybe we can plow ahead with our basketball picks regardless.
In other frontline news, Pero Antic (9.5 PER) played his second game since his arrest as part of the Chris Copeland/Thabo Sefolosha fiasco. The Hawks (60-20 SU, 50-28-2 ATS), the NBA and the Players Association are all looking into the incident; recent video footage of Sefolosha’s arrest does not look good for the police involved. Internal Affairs is also said to be on the case. This is something that could galvanize the Hawks going into the playoffs, although they might prefer to have Sefolosha (13.8 PER, plus-2.5 DBPM) back on the court playing defense instead.
So how about those Knicks (16-64 SU, 32-45-3 ATS)? Just when things looked at their bleakest, New York has started beating the NBA odds again at 2-4 SU and 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games. Not bad for a team that’s already got its eyes on 2015-16. Reports suggest they’ve got a deal ready to be done with impending free agent Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons. Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks could also be in play. The Knicks have about $25 million in cap space to work with this offseason, so they can afford both.
Meanwhile, the 2014-15 Knicks continue to scuffle along. They pulled off an 80-79 victory over the Orlando Magic (–11 at home) on Saturday – this was the game where New York and Orlando combined for 15 points in the second quarter. Miracle of miracles, their best remaining player, Cole Aldrich (17.4 PER, plus-0.7 BPM), got to play 26 minutes against Orlando, scoring a career-high 19 points with 14 rebounds and three assists on the side. But that was because Andrea Bargnani (16.7 PER, minus-3.7 BPM) missed his second game with an undisclosed illness.
We’d love to know if Bargnani is going to miss Monday’s game, too. It would make it a lot easier for us to throw our support behind the Knicks with our NBA picks. We should also note that Shane Larkin (10.9 PER, minus-2.2 BPM) is no longer in the starting backcourt; Tim Hardaway Jr (11.5 PER, minus-4.4 BPM) has taken that job instead, which would normally be considered an upgrade if it weren’t for Hardaway’s poor play this season. He shot just 4-of-16 against Orlando, although he did score the final eight points as New York held on for the win. Looks like we’re going to have to go with Atlanta after all.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Hawks -14 at Pinnacle