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Two teams who've been struggling all season are suddenly making a push. Plus, the Knicks hope to avoid disaster.

Atlanta Hawks vs Toronto Raptors Prediction: Riding the Hot Hand

These are your Eastern Conference Finalists.

After their come from behind victory over the Los Angeles Lakers yesterday, the Atlanta Hawks have now stretched their both win and cover streak to seven games. That it follows a stint in which they lost nine of 11 both outright and against the spread speaks to just how volatile their season has been.

They've turned around their season in a number of ways. First, their bread and butter: over the seven games, the Hawks are scoring 119.8 points per 100 possessions, which ranks second in the NBA over that stretch. They have a scorching 58.5 effective field goal percentage over that stretch as well - tops in the league - which has helped get their yearlong number all the way up to 7th.

But the real accomplishment has been their turnaround on defense. Ranked 28th in the NBA over their first 42 games with a 113.8 defensive rating, they have given up just 108.0 points per 100 possessions over their last seven - a number that ranks 6th in the league since January 16. Making this more impressive is the fact that the sample size of teams in this stretch all have decent to good offenses. Their defensive turnaround seems legit.

In come the Raptors, a good but inconsistent team that has gone 4-6 since its six-game winning streak. This line is betting on the Hawks being a little tired on the second night of a back to back. Don't fall for it; their game against LA yesterday was a 1pm start. Not only will they be rested enough, but they'll go out with the recent reminder that no opponent can be taken for granted. Give the points at home.

Atlanta Hawks vs Toronto Raptors Pick

Hawks vs Raptors Odds

Atlanta Hawks vs Toronto Raptors Line Movement

Los Angeles Clippers vs Indiana Pacers

Los Angeles isn't quite as hot as the Hawks, but they aren't far behind, especially accounting for the fact that they've been so depleted by injuries. Aside from Paul George and Kawhi Leonard being gone, Marcus Morris and Nic Batum have been intermittently banged up recently.

Through it all, the Clippers continue to persevere, covering seven of their last eight games and winning five of them outright even though the last seven have come on the road and almost all against solid competition.

Indiana, meanwhile, appears ready to pack it in. Their last eight games have included a 27-point loss to the Mavs, a game against the Hornets in which they gave up an NBA season high 158 points in regulation, and a few weeks ago, a game against the Clippers in which they allowed LA to score a season-high (for them) 139 points.

Somehow though, they're getting points here. Yes, this is on the road, and yes, they're playing on the second night of back to back. It's also not like the Pacers can simply out-talent team; they win with their hustle first and foremost.

Even so, this is too good an opportunity to pass up. Take the points on the road.

Los Angeles Clippers vs Indiana Pacers Pick

Clippers vs Pacers odds

Los Angeles Clippers vs Indiana Pacers Line Movement

Sacramento Kings vs New York Knicks

The Depression Bowl. Or at least that's how it feels for fans of these two franchises.

Both the Kings and Knicks entered this season with play-in aspirations at the very least, yet at the moment, they sit in 13th and 12 place in their respective conferences. Worse yet, they employ the two "best players on a team" having arguably the worst seasons in the league out of that group.

At this point, these teams would probably do well to simply swap Julius Randle and De'Aaron Fox for each other. For the Knicks, it would open up playing time for Obi Toppin and finally get them an answer at point guard, while for the Kings, they can hand the reigns of the offense over to Tyrese Haliburton and give him an advantage creator to work with in the front court. Each guy seems to need a change of scenery.

But that won't happen until after this game. For right now, it's impossible to count on either team to show up and perform, what with the Knicks having lose six of seven and the Kings dropping 11 of 13. Flip a coin here and stay the hell away, but if you must, go with the Knicks at home.

Sacramento Kings vs New York Knicks Pick

Kings vs Knicks odds

Sacramento Kings vs New York Knicks Line Movement

Article Author


Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.


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