NBA Monday Picks: Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers

Paul Millsap is a near-lock to return to the All-Star game this season.
Paul Millsap is a near-lock to return to the All-Star game this season.

Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers
Time: 6 PM CT
Spread: IND -2
Total: 205

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The Atlanta Hawks got off to a mediocre start this season after going 12-12 through its first 24 games. Since then, however, the Hawks have won six straight to move into the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Hawks are 8-6 on the road and will travel to face the 17-12 Indiana Pacers. Indiana is 10-4 at home and will be 2 point favorites in the game according to NBA oddsmakers.

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Paul Millsap’s play has been nothing short of incredible. He re-signed as a free agent this past offseason after briefly considering the Orlando Magic. The allure of returning to a 60-win team proved to be too great for the one-time Utah Jazz forward.

Millsap should be representing Atlanta once again in the All-Star game, but it is questionable as to how many of his teammates will join him this time around. Center Al Horford has quietly been having another superb season, and his efficiency and low-key style is somewhat reminiscent of Tim Duncan. Horford is far from flashy, but he is consistent and the Hawks have one of the tougher frontcourt rotations in the NBA.

Horford and Millsap combine to average 33.1 points and 15.7 rebounds per game, and post PERs of 19.7 and 22.9, respectively. The Hawks also have been able to get strong play out of small forward Kent Bazemore, who was almost an afterthought to most teams during the offseason as a free agent. Bazemore is a lanky and long gifted athlete and he is averaging 12.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in 28 minutes a night, while also coming up with 1.44 steals per game.

The Hawks are a rather deep team, bringing a talented Dennis Schroder off the bench behind one of the league’s most underrated point guards in Jeff Teague. Schroder could start on a number of teams, but on Atlanta he represents a strong sixth man that has been brilliant at adjusting to and controlling the tempo in the second unit.

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Swingman Kyle Korver is having something of a down year after making the All-Star team for the first time in his career last year. He is still shooting 40 percent from three-point range, but last year he knocked down 49.2 percent from the arc while attempting six per game. The Hawks still are gelling as a team, though, and Korver may be better as the season wears on.

The Indiana Pacers snapped its three-game losing streak last night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, winning 102-88 as the Pacers continued to use the three point shot to assault its opponent. Indiana averages 9.2 threes per game while shooting 37.2 percent as a team.

First and foremost in that has been the reinvented star Paul George who now is one of the best stretch-4s in the league. George is averaging three made triples per game while hitting them at a 40.6 percent clip.

The Pacers have not been overly impressed with Monta Ellis, but few expected his numbers to remain what they were in Dallas when he came to a Pacers team with a much more balanced and rational attack. Ellis is averaging 12.7 points per game, but he attempts just 11.8 shots per game.

Between George, Ellis, C.J. Miles and George Hill, Indiana has four players averaging 10 shots or more per game. Indiana also has six players averaging double figures. Jordan Hill has been an effective big in the rotation and he leads the team in rebounding at 7.8 per game.

This game may not be billed as an exciting one, but it most certainly will be, as both teams are formidable and somewhat overlooked clubs. The Pacers should not overly feel the effects of the back-to-back given that it was able to rest its starters some in the easy win over Minnesota last night.

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