Atlanta Hawks (10-26) at Phoenix Suns (14-24)
We picked up our second consecutive win last night when we backed the Minnesota Timberwolves -10.5 points against an exhausted Lakers squad. It was free money as the Lakers came out flat early as expected and never recovered. The Wolves won 114-96 and easily covered the number. Today we will be zeroing in on a matchup featuring two of the worst teams in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks and the Phoenix Suns.
The Atlanta Hawks will travel out west to Phoenix, Arizona to play the Suns Tuesday night. The Hawks come into this game on a bit of a roll, as they have won three out of their last four games. The Suns had their modest two-game winning streak snapped their last time out, as they lost to Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve. The Suns are -1.5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 218.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM PST from Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.
The Phoenix Suns are not a very good basketball team. At 14-24 on the year, they are seeing any hopes of a playoff run be dashed already. But to be fair, they spent almost all of December without their best player, Devin Booker. Not many teams can compete without their number one guy, and the Suns struggled badly. But, Booker is back now after missing more than three weeks and looks better than ever.
The Suns are 2-1 since Booker’s return, and he has impressed. Booker is averaging close to thirty points a game since returning, and the Suns are a different team with him on the court. Everything just seems to run smoother for Phoenix when Booker is leading the charge. He is probably the best player in the NBA right now that the casual fan has never heard of. If Booker were playing in Boston or L.A. or even Cleveland or Golden State, he would be an absolute superstar. Instead, he wallows away in the basketball purgatory that is Phoenix.
There isn’t much, if anything, good I can say about the Atlanta Hawks this year. They are clearly rebuilding and are a lock for a high lottery pick next year. They have heated up recently, winning three out of their last four games, but if you take a closer look at that win streak, it might be a bit fraudulent. One of those wins was against the worst team in the Western Conference, the Dallas Mavericks, and another one was against a Portland Trail Blazers team playing without it’s best player, Damien Lillard.
But, when you are as bad as Atlanta is this season, you take the wins where you can get them, and you don’t apologize. The one bright spot on the season for Atlanta has been the breakout success of Dennis Schroder. Schroder has seen his production increase in all five of his seasons in Atlanta, after being drafted in the first round in 2013. Schroder is averaging close to twenty points a game and is looking like a potential All-Star. I would love to know if Atlanta plans to hold on to Schroder, a player that should be perfect to build around or flips him for more prospects and gets deeper into a long-term rebuild.
I jumped on this game because I think the vast majority of the betting public, the people that influence these lines, probably haven’t watched a Phoenix Suns game all season. They look at their crappy record and assume that they are a really bad team this year. But that isn’t completely fair. This team is a completely different one with Devin Booker on the floor, and the youngster is one of the best players in the NBA. I’m not saying that the Suns are world beaters by any means with Booker on the court, but they are a lot better than their fourteen wins might lead you to believe.
And tonight, they don’t need to be world beaters. They just need to beat the worst team in the NBA, at home, coming off a night off. When you spell it out that way, you wonder why this line opened at Phoenix -2 points and the action has all been on Atlanta, shifting the line to Phoenix -1.5 points. If you are an avid reader of my daily picks articles you know that I love to get on the other side of the betting public, it is a great place to be, and that is where I am headed with this one. Lets the squares back the worst team in the NBA on the road. I will take the rested home team, with its explosive leader back on the floor and playing like an MVP candidate. Give me the Phoenix Suns tonight -1.5 points.