It wasn’t easy, and Kobe certainly made the game worth watching as he racked up a career-high 17 assists (even more remarkable when you consider he used to pass to Shaq, now he passes to Jordan Hill and Stanky Pee (sic.) But the end result was right in line with how things have gone for us in 2015; another winner.
The win pushes our 2015 NBA record to 13-1-2 ATS, one of the more dominant runs I can recall over my many years successfully handicapping basketball. We will try to keep riding this wave as long as we can, and especially into a good weekend of NBA action. I don’t anticipate going 94% ATS for the remainder of the year… but I do still think there are some good lines out there waiting to be exploited. Let’s get after it with today’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Atlanta Hawks at Toronto Raptors (pick ‘em)
Last night I staked a tremendous winning streak on the staggering Cleveland Cavaliers. We’ve gotten away with a few wins fading the mighty sleeping giant Spurs. So why not stake it tonight on the best team, emphasis on team, in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks roll into Toronto tonight on a ten game winning streak and just one win from matching the longest winning streak in franchise history. They have won 14 of their last 15 games on the road after starting the season 1-4. Also keep in mind they started the season 5-5 – just another pedestrian early playoff-losing Hawks team brewing, right? Since that stumbling start, the Hawks are an NBA best 26-3. Let’s repeat that – an NBA best 26-3. That’s a staggering record for a team without a clear-cut no-doubt All-Star, let alone MVP candidate.
That isn’t to say that Hawks don’t have talent. Jeff Teague deserves to be an All Star this year. Al Horford and Paul Milsap make for one of the best frontcourts in the NBA. Kyle Korver is shooting at a historically great clip and there are plenty of other good pieces on the roster in Antic, Schroeder, Carroll, etc. What the Hawks are is just a great TEAM. I read a stat that had them shooting the most shots in the NBA without taking a dribble. I’ve long looked at this factor when assessing college teams heading into the tournament; how willing are teammates to create open shots for one another and deliver the extra pass. Right now, no one in the NBA does it better than Atlanta. You see it in their offensive efficiency, shooting percentage, and most importantly, in the winning percentage.
The Raptors started off the season looking like the surprise team in the East and a NBA Finals contender. However, things have slowed a bit even with the return of All Star DeMarr DeRozan this week. The Raps have won just two of their last seven games, however they are 14-3 for the season with DeRozan in the lineup.
Toronto will be fine and could very well still win 50+ games and go to the Eastern Conference Finals. But right now, I wouldn’t stand on the tracks when the MARTA is rolling – bet against the Hawks at your own peril. I’ve built my winning streak largely eschewing numbers for a more micro perspective; how is a particular team playing RIGHT NOW. Numbers would never have let us back the Pistons. Numbers would never let you make some money on the Charlotte Hornets. Right now, no one is playing better than the Hawks. They’ve won their ten straight games by an average of ten-plus and have covered ALL TEN games.
Tonight, we get a team that has won and covered ten straight games in a pick ‘em? Um. Yes please.