Midweek NBA Action: San Antonio Spurs host Atlanta Hawks

The San Antonio Spurs (11-7, 9-1 home) have played exceeding well at home during the budding 2011-12 NBA season, however with a tough match-up against the visiting Atlanta Hawks (13-5, 5-4 away) who are intent on winning in San Antonio for the first time in 15 years, tonight’s game will make for a great opportunity for online sports fans to get in on a challenging, exciting match-up between two elite NBA teams.

Dropping 13 straight games at San Antonio dating back to the 1996-97 season, the Atlanta Hawks have simply been owned by the Spurs, however with an offense that is playing well together behind the likes of Joe Johnson (19.0 points, 3.8 rebounds/game) and Josh Smith (16.3 points, 9.4 boards), and a defense that is holding the opposition to 91 points a contest, this match-up is looking to be on even playing terms now more than ever before. Coming into tonight’s showdown off a 6-1 recent run, the Hawks simply have to find a way to get more scoring on the road against a team like San Antonio, who is giving up an uncharacteristic 96.4 points per game (21st in the NBA). Atlanta has been averaging just better than 92 points on the road, and looming large for them is the fact that they’ve yet to beat a team with a record above .500 while playing as the visiting side. Against a dominant home Spurs team that will try to bounce back from their first home loss of the season to Sacramento last Friday, the most glaring point of emphasis will be finding a way to hold San Antonio under 90 points on the evening. Losing 88-86 to the Kings on Friday was the first time the Spurs were held to under 93 points on their home court, and the Spurs were held to their lowest home shooting percentage (37.8) of the season in that same game. Therefore, defense has to be a key for the Hawks to prevail for just the 2nd time in 18 games played at San Antonio, and finding a way to stuff the lanes and limit the Spurs’ forwards from getting good looks inside would serve Atlanta well tonight.

For the Spurs, getting Tim Duncan (13.5 points, 7.3 rebounds) back on top of the scoring charts will be a challenge, but a necessity at home against a hungry Atlanta Hawks team. With his production down 7 points and 4 rebounds per game this season, Monday’s rare road win over the New Orleans Hornets, in which Duncan put up 28 points and 7 boards, showed signs that he’s still able to put up big points, which will be essential to carry over into tonight’s contest. Especially with the lingering absence of leading scorer Manu Ginobli, who remains sidelined with a broken left hand, Duncan’s solid scoring presence, along with that of point guard Tony Parker (17.7 points, 8.1 assists,) is key for a Spurs victory on home court tonight. Parker has certainly stepped up his play in 2012 after Ginobli’s absence, scoring more than 20 points in 7 of the last 9 games (23.3 points and 11.3 assists in the last 4 outings), but missing from the Spurs’ attack is the 3-point shooting game, which was Ginobli’s bread and butter (%51.9 percent from beyond the arc before his injury). While Richard Jefferson has helped to pick up that load as well (%46.3 3-pt. shooting, 5.4 attempts/game), the lack of overall perimeter shooting has certainly hampered San Antonio on the road and against teams with good front court presences. Fortunate for the Spurs in tonight’s match-up however, the Hawks are relatively small up front, and could find continued success against them by locking down power forward Josh Smith and center Al Horford (12.4 points, 7 rebounds/game) who make up the majority of inside scoring for the Hawks.

Betting Lines for San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks at Sportsbetting Sportsbook

For a visit to one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here today, we’re picking Sportsbetting Sportsbook as the destination of choice, as it features quick and easy access to competitive betting lines with just a few clicks of a button. For tonight’s showdown, the Spurs are favorites at home with -190 odds to win on the money line, and will have to cover 4.5 points against the spread (-110 odds). Atlanta, looking for its first victory in San Antonio since the late 90’s comes in as a +165 underdog on the money, while getting 4.5 points’ worth of cushion at -110 odds. The over/under becomes an interesting wager to chase after tonight, especially with 189 points very close to the Spurs average at home plus Atlanta’s road scoring average (101.7 + 92.1 = 193.8), but could be decided based on whom you expect to prevail tonight. If Atlanta is to win on the road, they’ll have to suppress Spurrs’ scoring to the low 90’s, making the under wager more appealing, but if the Spurs are able to put up points like they have in 9 of 10 games at home, the over wager will fall with ease this evening.

Our Pick to Win:

With San Antonio playing its best form at home this season, Atlanta will have a major obstacle to overcome in order to shed some of the embarrassment of losing for 15 years on the Spurs’ home court. What I do like about the Hawks’ chances in this match-up is the fact that they are playing very well as of late (losing only to Philadelphia on the road while winning 6 of their last 7), and have gotten increased contributions from Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, but what looms very large is the fact that the Hawks have yet to show they can beat a +.500 team away from their own home court. Nonetheless, I’m feeling saucy today, and like the chance to back Atlanta to shed some of its road demons against a team that has snubbed them for the better part of 2 decades. As such, I’m taking Atlanta as the underdog to win with +165 odds on the money line, and will bank on the Hawks to edge out the Spurs in a close match-up, 94-92.

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