Atlanta Hawks @ Chicago Bulls -9.5 (TOTAL: 184)
The Hawks have a quick turnaround to get to Chicago tonight, less than 18 hours after their intense win over the Miami Heat. To tackle the East’s top two teams on back-to-back nights is a pretty tall task, even for the relatively young Hawks early in the season and still fresh.
Both teams enter tonight’s contest at 4-1 overall, and both have played well so far in the young season. The Bulls have won three straight, all by double digits, including a 104-64 dismantling of the Memphis Grizzlies on New Year’s Day. In fact, Chicago’s +13.2 point per game differential ranks them atop the league through five games. They are holding teams to just 43.5% shooting from the floor and a total of 89ppg.
Atlanta has been similarly strong defensively, allowing a stingy 87.8 ppg, but has had some offensive issues, averaging just over 93 points per game themselves. Tonight, they face one of the top defensive teams, in their building, with an extra day’s rest to prepare for their visit. It could be an ugly offensive evening for Atlanta.
Chicago has won 6 of their last 8 head-up against Atlanta, including a handy 4-2 series win in last season’s Playoffs. Atlanta stunned them by stealing the opener in Chicago, and then it was ALL Bulls after that – cruising to wins in four of their next five, winning all four games by double-digits. That’s the exact margin they will need tonight to cover the 9.5 point line; and I think they’ll do it with ease.
Chicago matches up well with Atlanta, and factoring in the inevitable emotional letdown having to travel across the county the night after their emotional win over Heat, and it is just too much for Atlanta to overcome. I like the Bulls laying the 9.5 tonight at home.
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