Even when the Atlanta Hawks win a game, which doesn't happen often enough for such a talented but underachieving roster, they often still lose for spread bettors. That was the case Wednesday, as the Hawks were 4.5-point home favorites against Orlando but failed to cover in a 106-104 victory, won on a Dejounte Murray last-second. That dropped Atlanta to an NBA-worst 10-30 against the spread. The Hawks will get a shot to improve that record when they visit Miami on Friday with the Heat opening as 6.5-point favorites on the SportsLine consensus.
Not only is that ATS mark by far the league's worst number – the cover rate is 25% with the next-worst being Phoenix at 35.9% (14-25-1 ATS) – but that is the worst such mark in the past 30 years by any team after 40 games played. Trae Young and Co. have covered back-to-back games just once, doing so in a 24-hour span against a pair of title contenders:
- Oct. 29 at Milwaukee: Hawks were +6 and won 127-110
- Oct. 30 vs. Minnesota: Hawks were +2.5 and won 127-113
Needless to say, Atlanta has had several ATS losing streaks, the longest being an eight-game skid from Nov. 26 through Dec. 15. The Hawks are an NBA-worst 4-15 ATS at home and also the worst on the road at 6-14. As an away underdog, as they are on Friday, they're 4-9 ATS, which is actually better than two teams (the Nuggets and Clippers).
Young hasn't missed a game since early December but is listed as questionable for Friday with an illness in the front end of a back-to-back (team is 4-3 in the front end). That would probably be fine with the Heat, considering in two games this season against Miami, Young is averaging 28.5 points, 12.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals.
Young's backcourt partner Dejounte Murray is the subject many trade rumors. There seems to be a consensus that he's a goner by the Feb. 8 trade deadline so that Atlanta can recoup some draft capital it lost when it acquired Murray a couple of years ago from San Antonio. Wednesday's game-winning buzzer-beater was the first of Murray's career and the Hawks' sixth over the past five seasons. Murray is having a good season, averaging a career-high 21.0 points per game while shooting a career-best 47.1% from the floor.
Miami is 19-21-1 ATS overall and 8-11 ATS at home. The Heat return from a two-game trip, the latter being a truly perplexing 121-97 loss in Toronto on Wednesday. The Raptors were extremely short-handed without All-Star forward Pascal Siakam, who was traded earlier in the day to Indiana, and injured starting center Jakob Poeltl. The game was over after a quarter with Toronto up 41-18, and Miami's 35-point halftime deficit was the biggest in team history.
"It just happened. It was an avalanche at the beginning of the game. Our starters definitely did not set the tone for the game and then it just proceeded to get worse as that first half went on," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
With the "Heat Culture" being a franchise tentpole, expect a mammoth bounce-back effort Friday. Good-looking rookie Jaime Jaquez and veteran Kevin Love haven't played this week due to injury. Love is questionable for Friday and Jaquez is doubtful. Miami leads the season series 2-0 --- covering both, naturally -- and has won four straight overall against the Hawks and five in a row in south Florida.
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