Free NBA Picks: Pacers at Hawks Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 2/3/2014
Did the Indiana Pacers win the NBA title on Friday? That was the day they signed free-agent center Andrew Bynum. Now obviously Bynum is nowhere near what he once was with the Lakers. He played in 24 games this season for the Cavs, averaging 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds. He also had some clashes with teammates and Coach Mike Brown and was traded to Chicago in the Luol Deng deal. The Bulls immediately waived him, and Bynum could have signed with anyone.
Here's why I think this could be a big deal. First off, I do believe the winner of the Eastern Conference will win the NBA title. The Heat are 12/5 favorites to win the NBA Finals at Bovada and the Pacers No. 2 at 11/4. Miami is 5/6 to win the East and Indiana 5/4. If Bynum actually plays like he cares, then he can still be a solid contributor for 15-20 minutes a game. Maybe the fact Larry Bird is in the Pacers front office will motivate Bynum. Think Bird will let Bynum sulk around and be lazy? He's a great low-risk, high-reward signing.
Miami's main problem is dealing with size, and the Heat signed Greg Oden specifically to deal with Indiana, Brooklyn (before Brook Lopez's injury) and Chicago (before Derrick Rose's injury) in the playoffs. Roy Hibbert gave the Heat fits in last year's playoffs. That Indiana was able to keep Bynum away from the Heat -- they were rumored as a destination -- and it cost them just $1 million was a no-brainer deal. Miami currently has a full roster and a tax bill of $15 million, so that hampered the Heat in trying to get Bynum as it would have meant cutting a player, and the Heat would have had to pay a big tax on every dollar they gave Bynum.
Bynum won't make his debut until he practices with the team for a few weeks, according to Coach Frank Vogel. The Pacers can now roll out bigs like Hibbert, Bynum, David West, Luis Scola and Ian Mahinmi. Miami? Oden, Chris Andersen and Chris Bosh. That sounds like a mismatch.
Tuesday's game in Atlanta is the second of a back-to-back for Indiana after hosting Orlando on Monday.
Pacers at Hawks Betting Story Lines
Indiana has been sputtering a bit, entering Monday's game alternating wins and losses over its past seven. Those losses were a bit concerning, too: Allowing a season-high 124 points in a 24-point blowout at Phoenix on Jan. 22; allowing 109 points in a 13-point loss at Denver on Jan. 24; and allowing 102 points in a shocking home loss to Phoenix last Thursday, only the Pacers' second home loss of the year. The 40-1 mark of the 1985-86 Celtics is safe now. Indiana did bounce back with a solid 97-96 home win over Brooklyn on Saturday and no doubt will beat Orlando on Monday.
Hibbert had been in a bit of a funk for a few weeks. From Jan. 8-Jan. 28, Hibbert didn't score more than 14 points in a game and had only four games with double-digit rebounds. Fouls often played a problem. Hibbert seems to have found his sea legs, however. He had 26 points in that loss to Phoenix and 20 points in the win over the Nets, shooting better than .500 from the field in both games.
Atlanta continues to be average, winning a few and then losing a few. Too good to lose more than a couple in a row but not talented enough to go on a long winning streak. The offense is clicking right now. Atlanta has scored at least 109 points in the past four, winning three of them. The Hawks crushed Philly 125-99 last Friday and then beat visiting Minnesota 120-113 on Saturday.
The Hawks have a player that just about anyone would want in Paul Millsap, and he's only signed through next season at a reasonable sum. He's averaging 17.7 points and 8.2 rebounds. It makes sense for Atlanta to deal him to get a young player/draft picks because as usual the Hawks aren't going to win more than one playoff series. Because of injuries to Al Horford (out for season) and Pero Antic (likely out a few more weeks), Atlanta has a very small lineup. Millsap (6-foot-8) and Gustavo Ayon (6-foot-10) generally start in the frontcourt. It's OK to play small if you have a ton of athletes like the Heat, but Atlanta doesn't have them.
Pacers at Hawks Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, Indiana opened as a 4.5-point favorite with a total of 195. All Pacers trends entering Monday: They are 29-17 against the spread (13-9 on the road) and 19-26-1 "over/under" (11-10-1 on road). Atlanta is 26-20 ATS (15-8 at home) and 29-17 O/U (13-10 at home). The Pacers are 0-4 ATS in their past four in the second of a back-to-back. They are 2-6 ATS in their past eight road games. Atlanta is 5-1 ATS in its past six against teams with a winning record. It has covered eight of its past 11 at home. The over is 8-2 in Indiana's past 10 against teams with a winning record. The under is 7-1 in Atlanta's past eight home games against teams with a winning road record. The under is 5-2 in the past seven meetings in Atlanta. Indiana has covered just twice in its past 11 in Atlanta.
Free NBA Picks: Pacers at Hawks Betting Predictions
This is the second of four meetings. Back on Jan. 8 the Hawks beat visiting Indiana 97-87 as four-point underdogs. That was the second of a back-to-back for the Pacers. Atlanta led 49-32 at the half and never relinquished the lead. Kyle Korver had 17 and Antic 16 for Atlanta. Millsap was just 1-for-10 from the field. George had 28 points, but Hibbert was 1-for-8 with only four rebounds. It was the Pacers' 12th straight loss in Atlanta. Obviously, looking at the talent on the court this should be an easy call, but some teams simply never play well in certain cities. Thus take Atlanta and the under here.
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