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NBA: Phoenix at Atlanta (8:00 PM ET, ESPN)

NBA: Phoenix at Atlanta (8:00 PM ET, ESPN)

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NBA: Phoenix at Atlanta (8:00 PM ET, ESPN)


2010-01-15

ESPN has a strong NBA doubleheader on tap for Friday night, and in the first game, Atlanta welcomes Phoenix to town for the only time this season. Read on for a closer look at that game then visit the LIVE ODDS page on Sportsbook.com for the latest prices, then head over to the BETTING TRENDS page to see where your betting colleagues are placing their trust.

The Phoenix Suns have been struggling on the road for more than a month, and recently they’ve displayed an inability to protect leads. Atlanta might not be the best place to remedy either of those troubles. In a matchup pitting two of the league’s top offenses, the Suns will try to bounce back from their latest loss Friday night against a Hawks team seeking its fifth win in six games.

For more than a week, Phoenix (24-15, 20-18-1 ATS) has been getting off to fast starts, only to see its intensity dissipate as the game progresses. This trend started Jan. 5 at Sacramento, when the Suns led by 20 in the second quarter only to let the Kings rally and tie the score in the fourth. They ultimately pulled out a 113-109 victory.

A similar scenario has occurred in each game since.

“It is alarming for us,” Suns forward Grant Hill said. “We have to figure it out, stay together, and try to improve. The only way you get there is as a unit. We’re good enough to get up big, but we have to get better at managing those leads.” The Suns have been outscored 129-97 in the second halves of their last two games and are 23-36 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record over the last two seasons.

The Suns’ recent loss in Indiana opened a four-game road trip for the Suns, who have dropped eight of nine (3-6 ATS) away from Phoenix since Dec. 1. They are, however, continuing to pile up the points.

Phoenix is averaging 118.0 points in its last three road games and its 106.3 road scoring average leads the league. With the Suns defensive shortcomings of late, they are 13-3 ATS after allowing 120 points or more. They may need to light up the scoreboard at least that much against a Hawks team that’s plenty capable of scoring in its own right.

Atlanta (25-13) ranks fourth in the NBA with 108.2 points per game at home, helping produce a 15-4 record at Philips Arena. Atlanta is the best bet in the NBA at 26-12 ATS and also has the finest home spread record at 14-5.

The Hawks opened a season-high five-game homestand with Wednesday’s 94-82 victory over Washington, their third straight home win and fourth victory in five games overall. Joe Johnson scored 24 points and Jamal Crawford added 22 in a game Atlanta led by as many as 22. Johnson’s club protected the ball well against the Wizards in that outing and is 16-5 ATS after committing eight or less turnovers over the last two seasons.

Sportsbook.com has the Hawks favored by four, with 217.5 total. They are 10-2 ATS versus shooting teams making 46 percent or more of their shots this season and 8-1 OVER at home against clubs allowing 99 or more points a game this season, winning by a supersized 13.9 PPG. Phoenix has floundered this month, sporting a 5-15 ATS record in January games the last couple of years and is 12-3 UNDER after allowing 100 points or more three straight contests thru 39 games.

Atlanta has lost three straight to Phoenix and nine of the last 11 meetings (5-6 ATS), and is 4-9 and 5-8 ATS hosting the Suns since 1996.


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