Atlanta Hawks +6.5 (22-14) at Phoenix Suns -6.5 (21-13) O/U 212 9 PM ET January 12, 2009
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
Tonight the struggling Atlanta Hawks travel to the desert to play the hot Phoenix Suns. The Suns have won 2 games in a row, are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and are 2nd place in the Pacific Division 8 games behind the 1st place LA Lakers. Even though the Hawks are 6-4 in their last 10 games they have dropped 3 in a row and they currently sit in 2nd place in the Southeast Division 7 games behind the Orlando Magic. Both teams are headed for the playoffs, but they are not a lock yet, as the Suns are in the 7th position in the West and the Hawks are in the 5th position in the East.
This season the Suns are 11-7 at home and the Hawks are 7-10 on the road.
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Basketball bookies have the Suns as 6.5 point favorites with a total around 212. The Suns are posted at -360 as home favorites and the Hawks are posted at +280 as away dogs.
The Hawks come into this game after losing the Philadelphia 76ers 109-94 on Sunday night. The high scorer for the Hawks in that game was Joe Johnson going for 25 points on 7/18 shooting. For the game the Hawks shot 33/70 from the field for a FG% of 47.1%. On defense the Hawks took the night off, as they allowed the 76ers to shoot 41/75 for a FG% of 54.7%.
The Suns come into this game after beating the LA Clippers 109-103 on Sunday night. The high scorer in that game for the Suns was Amare Stoudemire going for 26 points on 8/15 shooting. For the game the Suns shot 39/86 for a FG of 45.3%. On defense the Suns allowed the Clippers to shoot 37/86 for a FG% of 43%.
This season the Suns rank 4th in scoring this year (104.2 ppg) and the Hawks rank 15th (97.9 ppg). The Suns have the highest FG% in the league and they are shooting just under a hair under 40% from beyond the 3-point line. While the Suns can flat out score they are not a good defensive team ranking 24th in points allowed (102.2 ppg) and the Hawks rank a respectable 10th (96.4 ppg). The Suns are a tad better hitting the glass, as they have a rebounding differential of +1.2 rpg and the Hawks are at -1.1 rpg.
This season the Hawks are 19-17 ATS and those betting on the Suns are not thrilled, as the Suns are only 13-21. In terms of Over/Under games the Hawks are 19-21-1 this season and the Suns are 21-15-1.
On the injury front C Zaza Pachulia is day-to-day and Al Horford is Out for the Hawks and C Shaquille O’Neal is day-to-day for the Suns.
The Hawks will be at a big disadvantage in this game since Al Horford is out and C Zaza Pachulia is banged up. Their inside D is not one of the Hawks strengths, which is not good facing PF Amare Stoudemire (21.8 ppg) and Shaq (17.4 ppg). The Hawks will have to rebound well tonight and not give the Suns many 2nd chance opportunities.
The PG match up is a good one with Steve Nash (14.4 ppg) and Mike Bibby (16.1 ppg). Each has to keep the other from penetrating and scoring. Nash has not looked himself for most of the season, but he is playing better since head coach Terry Porter allowed the Suns to revert to their running style.
The Suns are not a good defensive team and they have to play good perimeter D tonight, as both Bibby and Joe Johnson can hit the outside J and the 3-point bomb.
Shaq has been great for the Suns this season, but he is banged up and may not play. If he goes it will be tough for the Hawks to stop him from dominating inside.
This game should be an exciting one to watch with a lot of scoring and not a lot of defense. The Hawks need to stop their skid, but it will not be easy tonight against a solid Suns team that is playing well as of late.
Jason’s Pick: Take the Hawks and the points.