Most NBA fans will be tuning in to the Lakers vs. Thunder game tonight, and I agree it is hard to turn away from this building crescendo of Laker disaster, but in truth, this is far from the best game on the radar tonight. The Lakers will fall to six games below .500 with a loss tonight and are getting closer and closer to missing the playoffs becoming a reality. Meanwhile the Thunder are in a tight three-team race for the best record in the NBA and need to bring their focus every night. I don’t expect this one to be much of a game – but tend to be a little fearful of wagering on the Lakers either way, as you really never know what team shows up.
Instead, I am focusing tonight’s pick on a game far less glamorous, but one that provides a much simpler wagering opportunity.
Utah Jazz at Atlanta Hawks -4 (Total: 192.5)
The Hawks have had a rough ten days, dropping four games in a row and starting to fade behind the surging Pacers in the race for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. However, three of their four losses have been on the road (perhaps that is putting an optimistic slant on losing to Cleveland and Detroit…) and like all NBA teams except the Bulls, they are markedly better at home. Atlanta is 11-6 at home and possesses a point differential advantage of nearly four points a game.
Contrast those stats with those of the Utah Jazz, who are just 8-14 on the road with a negative 4.9 pgg differential away from Salt Lake City. All teams have pretty wide home/road splits, but Utah (along with Denver) is one of the most extreme in the NBA. At home, they can beat anyone. On the road? Almost the exact opposite story.
Atlanta has played well against the Jazz head to head, winning five of the last six games. More importantly, they have covered the spread in all five of those wins and in the game they failed to cover they fell just one point short. It is a good matchup for the Hawks, who will be coming home desperate to snap their four-game skid. They have won three of their last six matchups by double digits and have an average margin of victory just over 12 points per game.
I like Atlanta at home tonight to win and cover the four point margin.
Free Pick: Atlanta Hawks -4