The Knicks won’t need to worry about whether Carmelo Anthony is 100% healthy enough to play in his next game… I imagine David Stern will take care of that for him. Last night he was ejected, along with Tyson Chandler and the aforementioned Noah and Chandler and Noah tangled (not nearly as exciting as the Sportscenter lead-ins indicated, by the way), and the Bulls are still awaiting the “all-clear” for Joakim tonight. I imagine he will avoid suspension, so this pick is written assuming Noah plays.
Chicago Bulls at Atlanta Hawks -3 (Total: 181)
It’s never easy to win back-to-back games on consecutive nights in the NBA, especially when the second game is against a quality team on the road. That is what the Bulls are attempting to do tonight in Atlanta, less than 24-hours after their emotional (and somewhat contentious) win over the Knicks.
The Bulls have been playing fantastic basketball lately, winning seven of their last nine and beating a few quality teams along the way. They own wins over New York twice, Boston, Brooklyn and Philadelphia, and their only losses are to Memphis and the Clippers (who won their 12th straight game last night). A big reason for their success has been the great play of Joakim Noah (again, who I am assuming will not be suspended for tonight’s game, it really WASN’T a fight yesterday… pretty mild really).
Atlanta has also been playing well. There were some big question marks after the departure of long-time leading scorer Joe Johnson. However, they have answered the call, racing out to a 15-9 record and playing solid basketball. They’ve hit a stumble recently, losing three of four and four of seven overall. The losses are all reasonable one; Golden State, OKC, Philadelphia and Miami on the road.
Tonight they return home to catch a quite possible flat Chicago team. I think that bodes well for the Hawks. Chicago has played well this season on the back-end of back-to-back games, but most of them have been at home and against non-playoff teams. Tonight’s game is neither of those things.
Look for a good defensive effort from Atlanta tonight. They are holding opponents to under 94 points a game at home so far this season, and that should be just enough to squeeze out a win in a tempo-slowed basketball game. I see Atlanta right around 86-90 points, and holding the Bulls to around 80. Just enough for a slim cover.
Free Pick: Atlanta Hawks -3