Jazz vs. Hawks Pick NBA – November 15th

It’s a crazy league sometimes. Golden State, the best team in the league, hosting Brooklyn the worst team in the league on the back end of a back to back last night – and Brooklyn HAD the game won. I mean HAD IT WON. But much like the Spurs of yore, you have to double-tap these Champs, because if you let them breathe they are getting back up. Somehow, someway, with a three point lead and nine seconds to play Brooklyn let Steph get the ball and shoot it (um, he made it). Brooklyn missed a point-blank look at the end of regulation and promptly got smoked in overtime.

Meanwhile, Cleveland lost in double overtime to the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s HARD to win games in the NBA, and really hard to win 65-plus of them. I still think Golden State (and even Cleveland) have the chance to do something special, but last night just goes to show there are no freebies on the NBA schedule.

Let’s try to get back on track and grab a week-ending winner.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Utah Jazz at Atlanta Hawks -4.5

The Hawks looked pretty shaky without Coach Bud in their last outing, a sound defeat at Boston, and will likely be without their Coach again this afternoon. But I think this veteran team can chalk up the Boston performance to a bad day rather than being unable to function without their coach (after all, look at Golden State’s start without NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr). This is still one of the better home teams in the NBA and a team that without much fanfare, has raced off to another great start at 8-3.

Utah has so many numbers for numbers-nerds to love. Their defensive efficiency rating is sparkling, fifth in the NBA at 95.6 and their intimidating length is visible. However, two key components of that fearsome defense are listed as questionable tonight with Rudy Gobert, the lynchpin of their defensive success, unlikely to play and Rodney Hood, their best perimeter defender also unsure for tonight.

Even if both play, Atlanta fares well against Utah. They’ve won seven straight in Atlanta and have beaten the Jazz four straight times over the last two years. Ex-Jazz players Paul Milsap and Kyle Korver seem to really enjoy playing their former squad. Milsap has averaged 21.5 and 11.5 against the Jazz and Korver is 9 of 13 from distance.

Atlanta is quietly one of the most efficient offensive teams in the league. I think they are poised for a big night tonight, playing at home against a team that is missing a few of their key defensive components. Atlanta is efficient against the best teams anyhow, so expect a good night from the team-centric Hawks tonight at home.

Free Pick: Atlanta Hawks -4.5

Chris Scheeren / Author