Phoenix Suns a hot pick at woeful Atlanta

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While both the Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks could have absent point guards Tuesday, taking the Suns to cover as 4-point favorites is an easy NBA odds call.

One of the important factors when considering which games to look at from the perspective of NBA odds is to not outsmart yourself. Sometimes when a matchup looks like the easy pick, there can be a tendency then to talk yourself out of it. When looking at Tuesday’s six-game NBA schedule, I found myself doing a great deal of that.

I looked at the NBA lines at The Action Network and saw the Phoenix Suns laying four points on the road against the Atlanta Hawks. At first glance, I was convinced that was the game to look at for Tuesday.

That was followed by 15 minutes of internal discussion about Ricky Rubio‘s questionable status as he is expecting his first child, coupled with thoughts of how bad it could be if Trae Young plays through his sore left hamstring.

But after all of that, I circled back to this: The Suns are a terrific road team, covering 10 of 16 against the spread so far this season. And the Hawks are the worst team in the NBA. They’ve won only seven of 36 games this season when Young does play and just one of four when he doesn’t. So in either case, Atlanta is sort of not very good, in that really bad sort of way.

These teams met in Phoenix on Nov. 14, with the Suns winning as eight-point favorites, 128-112. In that game, Young scored 21 points with 13 assists. Rubio had six points and eight dimes.

Phoenix hasn’t been great against the number recently, going 1-4 ATS in its last five games. But the Hawks have been awful straight up, with just two wins in their last 17 games. Atlanta has, however, covered four of its last 10 games. The Hawks have also covered two of their last three meetings with the Suns.

So there are a lot of reasons to be leery of Phoenix in this one. But while the Suns are certainly not one of the NBA’s elites, they are in contention for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Atlanta is in contention for lots of ping pong balls in May.

Sometimes it really is just that easy.

Phoenix Suns at Atlanta Hawks

TV: Fox Sports Arizona (Suns), Fox Sports Southeast-Atlanta (Hawks)
Tickets: State Farm Arena, 7:30 p.m. local (7:30 p.m. Eastern)
Records: Phoenix 16-23 (20-18-1 ATS, 10-6 road ATS), Atlanta 8-32 (17-23 ATS, 10-8 home ATS)

Availability report (as of 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Monday)
Phoenix: OUT–Jared Harper (two-way, G League), Frank Kaminsky (stress fracture, right patella); QUESTIONABLE–Ricky Rubio (personal).
Atlanta: OUT–Bruno Fernando (personal), Jabari Parker (right shoulder impingement); DOUBTFUL–Alex Len (low back pain); QUESTIONABLE–De’Andre Hunter (right index finger sprain), Trae Young (left hamstring pain).

Here is the rest of Tuesday’s slate:

Utah Jazz at Brooklyn Nets

TV: AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountain (Jazz), YES (Nets)
Tickets: Barclays Center, 7:30 p.m. local (7:30 p.m. Eastern)
Records: Utah 27-12 (21-18 ATS, 11-10 road ATS), Brooklyn 18-20 (18-20 ATS, 11-8 home ATS)

Availability report
Utah: OUT–Jarrell Brantley (two-way, G League), Mike Conley (left hamstring strain), Miye Oni (G League), Nigel Williams-Goss (G League); PROBABLE–Donovan Mitchell (illness).
Brooklyn: OUT–Chris Chiozza (two-way, G League), Nicolas Claxton (G League), Kevin Durant (right Achilles rehab), Garrett Temple (right knee contusion).

Notable: It will be a significant step up in weight class for the Brooklyn Nets in Kyrie Irving‘s second game back from injury after routing the Hawks on Sunday. The Utah Jazz have won their last nine games, covering in eight of those contests, and have won their last five games on the road, going 4-1 ATS in those games.

Brooklyn is just 2-7 ATS in its last nine games — a stretch split first into seven consecutive losses followed by two straight wins. What you see is what you get with the Nets … they are the only team in the NBA that currently has identical records both straight up and ATS. The last time these teams met in Salt Lake City, Brooklyn covered as 6½-point underdogs in a 119-114 loss.

Houston Rockets at Memphis Grizzlies

TV: AT&T SportsNet-Southwest (Rockets), Fox Sports Southeast-Memphis (Grizzlies), NBA TV (national)
Tickets: FedExForum, 7 p.m. local (8 p.m. Eastern)
Records: Houston 26-12 (19-19 ATS, 9-11 road ATS), Memphis 18-22 (21-18-1 ATS, 12-10 home ATS)

Availability report
Houston: OUT–Gerald Green (left cuneiform fracture), Nene Hilario (left adductor strain), William Howard (two-way, G League), Russell Westbrook (rest); QUESTIONABLE–P.J. Tucker (right shoulder stinger).
Memphis: OUT–Andre Iguodala (not with team), Josh Jackson (G League), John Konchar (two-way, G League), Yuta Watanabe (two-way, G League); QUESTIONABLE–Kyle Anderson (right foot soreness), Brandon Clarke (right thumb soreness), Jae Crowder (right hip soreness).

Notable: This will be a test for the young Memphis Grizzlies, who have gotten frisky in the race for eighth place in the West with five consecutive wins, covering in all five of those games. The first of those was a 26-point road win over the CLippers, so there’s some legitimacy there. The Houston Rockets are 3-2 ATS over their last five, but are just 1-4 ATS in their last five road games.

This will be the second matchup this season between the Southwest Division rivals, with the Rockets taking the first game in Memphis, covering as six-point favorites on Nov. 4 with a 107-100 win. With Houston on a back-to-back, Russell Westbrook will sit this one out in order to play Wednesday night at home against Portland. That can’t hurt the Grizzlies’ chances.

New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks

TV: MSG (Knicks), Fox Sports Wisconsin (Bucks)
Tickets: Fiserv Forum, 7 p.m. local (8 p.m. Eastern)
Records: New York 11-29 (20-20 ATS, 11-10 road ATS), Milwaukee 35-6 (23-18 ATS, 11-9 home ATS)

Availability report
New York: OUT–Ignas Brazdeikis (G League), Marcus Morris (sore neck), Ivan Rabb (two-way, G League), Dennis Smith Jr. (strained left oblique); PROBABLE–Reggie Bullock (contused left thigh), Frank Ntilikina (sore groin), Mitchell Robinson (left greater toe sprain).
Milwaukee: OUT–Robin Lopez (rest), Frank Mason (oblique muscle strain).

Notable: Both of these teams are 2-4 ATS in their last six games. Thus endeth the similarities between the New York Knicks and the Milwaukee Bucks. New York snapped a five-game losing streak straight up when they popped the Heat at home on Sunday, while the Bucks have won eight of nine straight up, including three in a row.

This will be the Knicks’ second visit to Milwaukee this season and the first on Dec. 2 … did not go well. Milwaukee covered as 17-point favorites, 132-88. Ouch, babe. It went much better in the second meeting at New York, with the Bucks covering as 12½-point favorites, 123-102. When you lose by 44 the first time, losing by 21 fits the definition of “much better,” doesn’t it?

Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors

TV: Fox Sports Southwest-Dallas (Mavericks), NBC Sports Bay Area (Warriors), NBA TV (national)
Tickets: Chase Center, 7:30 p.m. local (10:30 p.m. Eastern)
Records: Dallas 24-15 (20-18-1 ATS, 12-5 road ATS), Golden State 9-32 (19-21-1 ATS, 9-9-1 home ATS)

Availability reports
Dallas: OUT–Ryan Broekhoff (left fibula fracture), Josh Reaves (two-way, G League), Isaiah Roby (G League); QUESTIONABLE–Kristaps Porzingis (right knee soreness).
Golden State: OUT-Ky Bowman (two-way, G League), Stephen Curry (left hand fracture), Damion Lee (two-way, G League), Kevon Looney (left abdominal soreness), Klay Thompson (left ACL rehabilitation); QUESTIONABLE–Jordan Poole (right ankle contusion).

Notable: Fun fact — the Golden State Warriors have been a better bet lately than the Dallas Mavericks, despite the vast disparity in their straight-up records. Golden State has covered five of its last 10 and is 3-2 ATS at home in that span, while the Mavericks are just 3-6-1 ATS in their last 10 and just 1-2 ATS on the road during that stretch.

This is the third meeting this year, with Dallas taking the first two in blowout style, winning as 14½-point favorites at home on Nov. 20, 142-94 (yes, a 48-point win) and covering a 10½-point spread in San Francisco on Dec. 28 by a 141-121 count. The Warriors have lost eight in a row straight up, while Dallas could have Kristaps Porzingis back Tuesday night.

Cleveland Cavaliers at LA Clippers

TV: Fox Sports Ohio (Cavaliers), Fox Sports Prime Ticket (Clippers)
Tickets: Staples Center, 7:30 p.m. local (10:30 p.m. Eastern)
Records: Cleveland 12-28 (17-21-2 ATS, 9-10-1 road ATS), LA 27-13 (20-19 ATS, 11-9 home ATS)

Availability report
Cleveland: Not required to submit report until 4 p.m. Eastern. In Monday’s 128-99 loss at the Lakers, the Cavaliers did not have Larry Nance Jr. (left knee soreness), Kevin Porter Jr. (left knee sprain), Dylan Windler (stress reaction, left lower leg) or Ante Zizic (Illness).
LA: OUT–Amir Coffey (two-way, G League), Paul George (left hamstring strain), Mfiondu Kabengele (G League), Johnathan Motley (two-way, G League).

Notable: All has not been rosy for the LA Clippers of late, as they are just 1-4 ATS in their last five games (3-2 straight up) with a home-court blowout from the Grizzlies among those games. The Cleveland Cavaliers had their modest two-game winning streak ended with authority Monday night by the Lakers 128-99.

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Now Cleveland has to go right back to Staples Center against another contending club. The Clippers will not have Paul George for a third straight game as he nurses a hamstring strain. The Cavs have covered four of their last six on the road, however, while LA is just 1-4 ATS in its last five home games. So maybe a glimmer of hope for Cleveland backers.

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