Atlanta Hawks (17-18) +6, 187 at Toronto Raptors (21-18), 7pm Friday
by Zman of Predictem.com
One of this season’s surprise teams meets one of last season’s pleasant surprises when the Atlanta Hawks hop the northern border for a visit with the Toronto Raptors in an Eastern Conference bout Friday night.
NBA Sportsbooks list Toronto as six-point home chalk for Friday’s game, with a total of 187. Also, the Raptors are giving around -290 on various Vegas moneylines, with the Hawks getting +225 as road underdogs.
Atlanta was slated for a second-division finish in the Eastern Conference this season, but so far has played above those lowly expectations. The Hawks, despite an 87-80 loss at Milwaukee Wednesday, have won three of their last five games to hold down third place in the Southeast Division, just 3 games back of the first-place Orlando Magic. Atlanta also owns the #7 playoff slot in the East at the moment.
The Hawks have had their problems, though, on the road. They’re 5-10 straight up away from home, and have lost four straight while traveling. Also, while Atlanta is averaging 95 points per game overall, they’re scoring just 88 ppg on the road. Still, they’re a respectable 7-8 against the spread during their travels this season.
Toronto, meanwhile, the defending Atlantic Division champions, has won four of its last five games after beating Sacramento Wednesday 116-91. So heading into this weekend, the Raptors sit in second place in the Atlantic, 11 games back of the first-place Boston Celtics, and own the 6th seed in the East.
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Last season, these two teams split four games, with each team winning once both at home and on the road. And in the first meeting between these two teams this season back on Dec. 11, Toronto beat Atlanta 100-88 in the game that Hawks F Al Horford knocked Raptors G T.J. Ford out of action. Ford hasn’t played since that game, but Toronto has managed to go 9-8 without him.
Also, the o/u is 4-1 over those last five games in the series between these two teams, which have averaged 196 total points. And if Friday’s total of 187 had been posted on each of those five meetings, all five would have gone over.
This season, Atlanta is 18-17 against the spread, 5-10 straight up and 7-8 vs. the numbers on the road.
On the other side of this match-up, the Raptors are 21-18 ATS this season, and 11-8 both SU and against the spread at home.
The Hawks rank 16th in the league in point differential at -.5 per game, are shooting 45% from the field as a team, 31% from 3-point range and 77% from the free-throw line, rank 21st in rebounding at -.7 boards per game and are holding opponents to 44% FG shooting.
Meanwhile, Toronto ranks 12th in point differential at +2 per game, is shooting 45% from the floor, a league-best 41% from long range and 81% from the line (2nd-best), ranks 23rd in rebounding at -1.3 per game and allows foes to shoot 45% from the field.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Atlanta 18th at 88.8, the Raptors 11th at 92.7. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 2.7.
The o/u is 13-23 in Hawks games this season, which are averaging 189 total points, while the totals are 20-19 in Toronto games, which are averaging 193 points.
Zman’s Pick: Atlanta Hawks +6.5