Dallas Mavericks @ Atlanta Hawks -5.5 (Total: 193.5)
Tonight marks the end of the NBA regular season, and despite the abbreviated schedule this season (66 games) for most fans, the Playoffs can’t get here soon enough. What began as a final week of intrigue fizzled a bit as all playoff berths and positioning have already been decided, save for home court advantage in the West’s 4 vs 5 matchup of Memphis and the Clippers… and tonight’s matchup between the Hawks and defending champion Mavericks.
For Atlanta, the difference between the #4 and the #5 seed is worth fighting for. Technically, they can’t be the true “#4” seed, as Boston retains that position as the division winner, however home court advantage for the opening round is still up for grabs and can be claimed by the Hawks with a win tonight. With the recent resurgence of the Celtics, Atlanta would be wise to tuck away a home Game Seven should they need it.
For Dallas, the difference between the #6 seed and the #7 seed is an enormous one. With the #6 seed, the champs would open with the “Peace-less” Lakers, whom they swept out of the season in humiliating fashion. As a matter of fact, the last time these two linked up in the post-season, it was Andrew Bynum earning the multiple-game suspension for his blind de-cleating of J.J. Barrea in the closing seconds of defeat. Classy move.
The #7 seed however would mean a first round date with the team most pundits have tabbed as the team to beat out West, the explosive, athletic and young Oklahoma City Thunder. So tonight’s game matters for both teams much more than the dreadful New York Knicks vs. charlotte Bobcats game that has inexplicably landed on TNT tonight…
Maybe I’m jaded by season after season of “good record, but lousy against top teams” Atlanta Hawks basketball, but I have trouble laying five and half points on them in any big game. There just isn’t a strong precedent for them coming up big in the biggest games. Dallas has won the last two games straight up in Atlanta, and three straight over all. Both teams are mostly healthy, although the Hawks will be missing center Zaza Pachulia. I am sure the Mavs would LOVE to rest some of their veteran legs before the grueling second season commences, but I don’t think they can bypass the opportunity to play their way up and out of a first round matchup with OKC. I expect the Mavs to come out sharp and play post-season caliber basketball tonight. I think they’ll get the win, but love them getting five and half points.
Free Pick: Dallas Mavericks +5.5 <– click for $100 FREE Bet tonight!