Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs continue on Wednesday night and I will have a free pick in the game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Atlanta Hawks, which will take place at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The game has a start time of 5:30 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on TNT. Current Vegas betting odds have the Hawks listed as 9.5 point favorites, while the total is set at 202.5.
Analysis: The Brooklyn Nets did not play well down the stretch as they had won just 3 of their last 7 games, but they got it done when it counted on the last day of the season, by beating the Orlando Magic to grab the 8th spot in the East. The Nets are just 19-23 on the road so far this year, but they did play well in their 99-92 game 1 loss. Brooklyn has gone 12-3 ATS in their last 15 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600, but just 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS win. The Nets have not been a good offensive team this year, ranking 21st in scoring (98.0 ppg), 16th in shooting, 26th in 3 point shooting and 20th in FT shooting. Defensively the Nets have been rather average this year, ranking 18th in points allowed (100.9 ppg), 22nd in defensive FG% and 23rd in 3 point defense.
The Atlanta Hawks are the top seed in the East and they won the Southeast division by 14 games over Washington with a 60-22 record overall. The Hawks have gone 36-6 at home for the year and they fended off a tough fight from the Nets to take game 1 by 7 points. They had come into the playoffs having lost 3 straight and their close win might be a red flag for this team moving forward. Atlanta has gone 19-9-1 ATS in their last 29 games following a ATS loss, but the home team is 1-5 ATS the last 6 in the series. The Hawks have be a solid offensive team this year, ranking 10th in scoring (102.5 ppg), 4th in shooting, 2nd in 3 point shooting and 5th in FT shooting. Defensively the Hawks have been very good this year, ranking 5th in points allowed (97.1 ppg), 6th in defensive FG% and 7th in 3 point defense.
Pick: The Hawks allowed the Nets to hang around in game 1, but I don't see that happening tonight. They are too good a team and Brooklyn is too mediocre a team to have that happen again. Atlanta struggled down the stretch, but really this team had little to play for and that may have carried over to game 1. I look for them to be more focused tonight especially after nearly losing game 1. Atlanta by at least 12 in this one.
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