It’s been a memorable 24 hours for the Atlanta Hawks.
Friday night they posted one of the more impressive wins of the NBA season when they outlasted the Miami Heat, beating them in overtime after preventing the Heat from even getting a quality shot at the buzzer not once but twice.
It seemed like the kind of game that could jumpstart a team on one of those incredible runs; those magical streaks where a team feels invincible when they take the court and opponents are caught helplessly in their wake.
The Atlanta Hawks followed up their thrilling masterpiece with one of the worst performances not just in Hawks history, but in the history of the NBA. The New Orleans Hornets came into Atlanta last night an underdog; they left with a 100-59 win after holding the Hawks to their lowest offensive output since 1957 – and their second lowest EVER.
For those of you who are 100% “numbers people”, its time to admit that emotion, focus and other intangible factors come into play. The emotional letdown after the thrilling Heat win was inevitable – maybe not “worst performance in franchise history” inevitable, but some sort of hangover was perfectly logical and frankly pretty understandable.
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Today’s Free NBA Picks:
Dallas Mavericks -5 @ New Jersey Nets (Total: 187.5)
It’s been quite a freefall for the Mavs over the past three weeks. While Dirk sat injured on the sideline in street clothes the Mavs went from “potential 70 game winner” to “hopeful to have home-court advantage in round one.”
Even after his return, things were still a little rocky. So has Dallas righted the ship and are back to playing championship caliber basketball? This week’s solid beating of the Los Angeles Lakers seems to indicate they are, but tonight is an interesting test for them.
Dallas should beat the New Jersey Nets tonight on the road. The Nets showed some fight last night, earning a surprisingly easy 89-74 win at home over the Pistons. Using the same corrallary from the beginning of the article; the Nets are ripe for an emotional letdown.
Dallas presents real difficulties for the defensively-challanged Nets. Look for Nowitski and company to have their way with them, get tons of clean looks at the basket, and handle their business on the road in Jersey.
Indiana Pacers @ Portland Trailblazers -5 (Total: 194)
This game presents the most tantalizing line I have seen all week. Indiana is terrible on the road. They have lost 11 of their past 12 contests away from Conseco Fieldhouse. Portland has been excellent at home, going 11-2 in their past thirteen contests in the Rose Garden, and have won four straight overall, seemingly adjusting to life without Brandon Roy much easier than anticipated.
Indiana has failed to cover in six of their previous eight games, while Portland enters not just with a four-game winning streaks, but also a four game run against the spread as well.
Then one must consider the travel factor as well. Teams from the Eastern Conference tend to struggle making the long trip out West, particularly teams that aren’t particularly good in the first place.
The Pacers certainly fall into that category. I like the Blazers by double digits tonight, pulling away late in the fourth quarter as the Pacers run out of gas.