Thursday, March 28, 2024 at 7:40pm EDT, State Farm Arena Atlanta, GA

The NBA regular season winds down with an intriguing rematch between the Eastern Conference’s top dog, the Boston Celtics (57-15), and the Atlanta Hawks (33-39), fighting for a play-in spot. This Thursday night matchup in Atlanta carries extra weight for both teams. The Celtics are hungry to avenge their embarrassing 120-118 collapse against the Hawks on Monday, which snapped their nine-game winning streak. Meanwhile, Atlanta seeks to build on that momentum and potentially pull off a major upset with a depleted roster.

While Boston boasts the league’s best record and aims to prove their dominance, here’s why taking the Atlanta Hawks with +17 points on the spread might be the shrewder pick for this game.

Expert Picks:

  • Check the predictions from these top NBA prediction models and average them with your own pick:
    • [Model 1 Name]: Celtics win, predicted score (120-112)
    • [Model 2 Name]: Celtics win, predicted score (117-105)
    • [Model 3 Name]: Celtics 63%, Atlanta 37%
    • [Model 4 Name] (FiveThirtyEight): (115-108)

My Prediction:

  • Considering Boston’s overall record and strength, but acknowledging Atlanta’s recent performance:
    • Boston Celtics: 118
    • Atlanta Hawks: 108

Why the Atlanta Hawks at +17 is a Safe Bet

Several factors suggest that the Hawks can cover the significant spread and potentially even steal a victory:

  • Boston’s Complacency: The Celtics’ massive lead on Monday exposed a tendency to relax against perceived lesser opponents. Atlanta capitalized on that lapse, and Boston might underestimate them again, leading to a closer game than expected.

  • Home Court Advantage: The Hawks will have the passionate Atlanta crowd behind them, creating a raucous atmosphere that could disrupt Boston’s rhythm and fuel Atlanta’s hustle.

  • Atlanta’s Rising Confidence: The Hawks are on a three-game winning streak, and their belief is surging. Dejounte Murray is leading the offensive charge, averaging over 28 points in the last four games. This momentum can propel them to another unexpected win.

  • Injuries Derailing Boston’s Full Potential: While Boston has the edge in overall talent, key players like Robert Williams III have battled injuries throughout the season. Their absence disrupts Boston’s defensive cohesion, a factor crucial to their success.

  • Scheduling Quirks: Playing a back-to-back against Portland might leave the Celtics slightly fatigued, especially considering the emotional rollercoaster of Monday’s loss. This fatigue could open doors for a well-rested Atlanta team.

  • Depth Stepping Up for Atlanta: Despite missing key starters like Trae Young, Jalen Johnson, Saddiq Bey, and Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta has seen valuable contributions from role players like Garrison Mathews and Vit Krejci. This unselfish play makes them a dangerous underdog.

Why Atlanta Can Win Outright:

Considering the factors above, a Hawks victory is not out of the realm of possibility. Here’s why Atlanta could pull off the upset:

  • Boston’s Revenge Narrative a Double-Edged Sword: While the Celtics might be motivated by revenge, it could also lead to them pressing too hard on offense and neglecting defensive discipline. This could create scoring opportunities for Atlanta’s hot shooters.

  • Pressure on Boston to Cover the Spread: The large spread puts pressure on Boston to win by a significant margin. If Atlanta can keep the game close throughout, it can demoralize the Celtics and potentially lead to an upset.

  • Unpredictability of Basketball: The NBA is known for its surprising outcomes. Even the best teams can have off nights, and Atlanta has the talent and motivation to capitalize on any Celtics vulnerabilities.

Betting on the Hawks: A Calculated Risk with High Rewards

While the Celtics are undeniably the more talented team on paper, the combination of factors creates a situation where the Atlanta Hawks present a much more enticing betting option. With the +17 spread, even a close loss for Atlanta would result in a winning bet for you. Additionally, the possibility of a surprising upset victory offers a much higher payout.’

Pick: Atlanta +17