ATLANTA HAWKS (21-15)
at CHICAGO BULLS (20-15)
Tip-off: Monday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Chicago -4, Total: 184
The slumping Hawks look to turn their season around when they visit the Bulls on Monday night.
Atlanta has lost five of its past six games (SU and ATS), scoring 83 points or less in four of these five defeats. This stretch includes SU and ATS road defeats to four sub-.500 teams (Detroit, Minnesota, Cleveland and Washington). Chicago is a solid 4-2 SU (3-2-1 ATS) this month, but has dropped its past two home games to six-point underdog Milwaukee and 8.5-point underdog Phoenix by a 97-81 score. The Hawks rolled in first meeting between these teams this season, winning 92-75 on Dec. 22, but the Bulls are 9-4 SU (7-5-1 ATS) in the past 13 meetings between these squads, including four straight home wins SU (2-1-1 ATS).
Can the Bulls tally a rare ATS win at home on Monday night? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Brian has gone nine straight days without a losing record (10-7 ATS, 59%) and is 22-12 ATS (65%) since Dec. 23, while StatFox Scott is 14-11 ATS (56%) since Dec. 29, giving him a season Best Bets mark of 54% ATS (52-45), with Brian (55.0% ATS) and StatFox Gary (52% ATS) also profitable. The four experts are collectively 51.2% ATS (227-216-11) on Best Bets for the season. For NBA Totals, Scott continues to have a profitable year at 53-39 (58%) for his season NBA totals.
Atlanta averages just 96.5 PPG (16th in NBA), but this team is pretty efficient on offense, shooting 45.6% from the floor (10th in league) and 37.8% from three-point land (6th in NBA), while dishing out 23.2 APG (5th in NBA). Where the Hawks really excel is on the defensive end, giving up just 95.5 PPG (6th in league). Five players average at least 10 points for the season, led by frontcourt players SF Josh Smith (16.7 PPG, 8.4 RPG) and C Al Horford (15.7 PPG, 9.5 RPG). Smith hasn't really beat up Chicago though, scoring just 14.8 PPG on 42.5% FG in 28 career meetings. Horford posted 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Dec. 22 win over the Bulls, giving him 16.8 PPG on 65.2% FG with 8.3 RPG in the past six games against them. SG Louis Williams (14.9 PPG) has provided a nice offensive spark off the bench this season, but he's shooting just 42% from the floor, including 10-of-33 in the past three games. That's quite a drop from his 22.0 PPG on 50% FG in the previous three games. PG Jeff Teague (12.9 PPG, 6.4 APG) has also been inconsistent with his scoring, posting games of 17, 5, 15, 7 and 19 points in the past five contests, a span in which he has just 20 assists and 12 turnovers.
Like Atlanta, the Bulls are also a great defensive team, allowing 92.3 PPG (3rd in NBA) and 43.4% FG (6th in NBA). But the defense has not been strong in the past three games, allowing 100.7 PPG on 45.3% FG. PF Carlos Boozer (15.4 PPG, 9.6 RPG) has led the offense with seven double-doubles in the past eight games, averaging 21.3 PPG and 10.9 RPG during this stretch. Boozer has not usually dominated the Hawks though, scoring just 10.6 PPG on 46.8% FG in his past 11 meetings with them. C Joakim Noah (12.4 PPG, 10.5 RPG) has just 9.0 PPG in his past three games, and has scored a meager 5.8 PPG on 37.5% FG in 16 career games versus Atlanta. SF Luol Deng (17.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG) had a huge game in Friday's upset win in New York with 33 points (13-of-18 FG), but was held to just 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting in Saturday's loss. PG Kirk Hinrich still appears to be slowed by an elbow injury that forced him to miss Wednesday's game versus the Bucks. In two games since, he has just seven points on 1-of-8 FG in 61 minutes of action.