Stephen Nover Free Friday NBA Play

On March 24, 2017, in Free Picks, NBA, by Stephen

Hawks plus 5 1/2 at Bucks

It takes a lot of zigging and zagging to beat a don’t-make-sense league such as the NBA. We have a perfect example today: Take Atlanta plus the points at Milwaukee.

The Hawks have lost five in a row. The Bucks are returning from a 4-2 road trip, marking the first time since the 1988-’89 season Milwaukee won four games during a single road trip.

Logic says lay the points with the Bucks. Logic, though, doesn’t work too often in the NBA. If it did the sport would be easy to win at instead of being what many pro gamblers consider the most difficult sport to beat.

Still, why get involved with the cold Hawks? We go back a little more than two weeks ago to help get the answer. Atlanta was riding a three-game winning streak from March 8-12 defeating the Nets, Raptors and Grizzlies in Memphis. Then the Hawks lost to the Spurs. No shame in that. The Grizzlies got their revenge against the Hawks following that game. Again, no shame in losing to Memphis.

But then in their next game – home against Portland this past Saturday – the Hawks lost by 16 points. Paul Millsap injured his knee during warmups prior to that game and the Hawks had trouble adjusting without their best player. Millsap, a four-time All-Star, leads Atlanta in scoring and is second in rebounding, assists and steals. Coupled with the loss of underrated Kent Bazemore, the Hawks proceeded to drop their next game, 105-90, to the Hornets in Charlotte. That was the Hawks’ fourth straight loss with the defeats coming by an average of 12.8 points per game.

These are the short windows of opportunity that come and go in the NBA. They don’t stay open long as team and oddsmaker adjust. The Hawks covered as 7 1/2-point road ‘dogs to the Wizards in losing, 104-100, two days ago in their last game.

Atlanta is not going to have Millsap nor Bazemore against the Bucks. But the team has made the proper adjustments. The Hawks showed progress against the Wizards and are now less depended on Millsap.

The Hawks have a strong track record against the Bucks and draw Milwaukee in a vulnerable situational spot. The Bucks are a bit fat and happy following their successful six-game, 11-day road journey that concluded with a blowout victory against the Kings in Sacramento this past Wednesday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo is an absolute monster on pace to join Ocar Robertson and Magic Johnson as the only player to average more than 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists under the age of 22. If my Rotisserie fantasy basketball draft were being held now I would rank Antetokounmpo as the fourth overall player behind Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Anthony Davis.

The Bucks are a young team whose maturity is under question. The Bucks have their long-time arch rivals, the Bulls, on deck Sunday at home. I wouln’t trust the Bucks to bring their “A” game here considering the circumstanes. They still could be getting used to the time change having been on the West Coast the past week.

It should be noted the Bucks may be without backup center John Henson. He missed Milwauke’s last game with a thumb injury. If Henson can’t play that would be one less big man to hack Dwight Howard.

The Hawks need point guard Dennis Schroder to return to his earlier solid form. He’s been terrible during the Hawks’ losing streak. Point guard is not one of the Bucks’ strengths. Veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova also needs to step up. He’s a former Buck so he should be psyched for this matchup.

The Hawlks are in stop-the-pain mode. They have just a one-game lead on the Bucks and Pacers for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta has a winning straight-up and spread record on the road. They have defeated the Buck in seven of the past nine meetings, including all three this season winning by an average of eight points. The Hawks have covered in seven of their last eight visits to Milwaukee.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *