Posted 01/12/2015 at 04:49 AM
Atlanta had eight players score in double figures during Sunday's 120-89 win over Washington as a 4.5-point home favorite. Mike Budenholzer's squad won its eight consecutive game both straight up and against the spread.
Kyle Korver buried 5-of-7 attempts from long distance en route to scoring a team-high 19 points. DeMarre Carroll contributed 16 points, four rebounds and four steals, while Al Horford finished with 15 points, six boards, three assists, a pair of blocked shots and one steal. Jeff Teague produced 11 points, 10 assists, four steals and didn't commit a turnover.
Teague has been nothing short of sensational all season. It will be a crime if the Wake Forest product isn't selected to the All-Star Game for the first time. Teague is averaging 17.5 points per game for the season, 21.4 PPG in the month of January. He is shooting at a 48.6 percent clip from the field and is making 86.7 percent from the charity stripe. Teauge also averages 7.2 assists (compared to 2.8 turnovers), 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.
If there was any doubt about Teague's All-Star candidacy, it was completely eliminated when he absolutely destroyed Chris Paul in the Hawks' win over the Clippers at Staples Center last week.
Korver should be under consideration for the All-Star Game, too. The 33-year-old veteran leads the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage (51.7), making 56.9 percent of his 3-balls at home inside of Philips Arena. Korver also leads the NBA in free-throw percentage, draining 94.0 percent of his attempts (63-of-67). He has twice as many assists as turnovers, and the collegiate star at Creighton is an underrated defensive player.
Since Nov. 21, Atlanta owns an amazing 24-3 record, compiling a stellar 22-5 spread record. The Hawks are 100-percent healthy and haven't even seen rookie big man Adreian Payne make any contributions yet. I only mention Payne because there's certainly the potential for him to emerge as a quality reserve 'big.' Payne, who has appeared in only one game and has spent much of the year in the D-League when he's been healthy, was a collegiate star at Michigan St. He can rebound, block shots and has an excellent perimeter stroke for a 6-foot-10 power forward.
Atlanta goes into this week as the Eastern Conference leader with a 3.5-game advantage over both Toronto and Chicago, both of whom are in action Monday night. The Hawks haven't been the top seed in the East since 1994, the same year disgraced former General Manager Pete Babcock traded the franchise's star Dominique Wilkins in mid-season.
Babcock was a good guy but an incompetent GM. Wilkins is the best player the franchise has had since moving from St. Louis to Atlanta. Babcock sent him to the Clippers for Danny Manning, who couldn't get the Hawks past the East semifinals and then left via free agency after the season.(Note: Since moving to Atlanta, the Hawks have NEVER been to the Eastern Conference finals.)
Atlanta returns to the court Tuesday at Philadelphia. The game against the 76ers is the start of a four-game road swing in five days for the Hawks, who are 12-1 both SU and ATS in their last 13 road assignments. The lone defeat in those 13 road games came at Orlando when Tobias Harris nailed a buzzer beater to propel the Magic to a 100-99 win. Atlanta also faces Boston, Toronto and Chicago before returning home.
After cashing another winner with the Hawks, on Sunday, my NBA picks are on an 11-2 run to improve to 26-16 (62%) for the season. I have one pick already posted for Monday night that you can check out here.