Atlanta is one win away from clinching the No. 5 seed in the upcoming NBA playoffs, and that win is most likely going to come tonight against the hapless Charlotte Hornets.
The Hawks will be making their tenth straight postseason appearance regardless if they win tonight, but the opportunity to secure the highest- seed available in the Eastern Conference is motivation enough to ensure a focused effort from Atlanta tonight.
I ultimately decided against making Atlanta an NBA Best Bet tonight because reports indicate that the Hawks are “still buzzing about Saturday’s 126-125 overtime win against the Cavaliers.” The Hawks overcame a 26-point fourth quarter deficit to ultimately prevail in overtime.
While I’m concerned about a potential Atlanta letdown following Saturday’s miraculous comeback against LeBron & Co., I just don’t see how the Hornets show up with any fight left after losing their fourth straight against Milwaukee on Monday.
The Hornets once again blew a fourth quarter lead, which also happened at home against the Celtics a few days earlier. “I thought for three quarters we did well,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “We got really disorganized with our second unit in the fourth.”
Charlotte arrives in town without leading scorer Kemba Walker, who is expected to miss tonight’s game due to a hyperextended left knee). Guard Marco Belinelli is nursing a finger injury and it’s unclear whether he’ll be available for the Hornets tonight.
With Walker sidelined, NBA veteran Brian Roberts is expected to make his second consecutive start (scored seven points vs. Milwaukee on Monday). Charlotte has failed to cover the point spread in four straight games, which is evidence enough that the players have checked out for the season.
With the home team standing at 9-2-1 ATS in the last twelve meetings in this series and the favorite owning a 7-3-1 ATS mark in the last eleven meetings between these Eastern Conference foes, take the Hawks to secure the No. 5 seed in the NBA Playoffs as Oskeim Sports’ Free NBA Pick for Tuesday, April 11.