Can Hawks Hang?

The Dallas Mavericks were perennially among the worst teams in the league before finally breaking out. The Atlanta Hawks, meanwhile, are finally showing signs that it could be their time to shine.

The Hawks look to win six straight for the first time this decade as they try for a sweep of their season series with the Mavericks on Saturday.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Dallas -9 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 190 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on Dallas -9 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Dallas (19-11) finished below .500 for 10 straight seasons before going 53-29 in 2000-01, when it made the first of seven straight playoff appearances.

Meanwhile, last season was Atlanta's eight straight sub-.500 campaign, but it may be poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. The Hawks (15-12) are three games over .500 this late in the season for the first time in nine years, and have a chance to win six straight for the first time since a seven-game run from April 14-28, 1999.

"To win five games in a row you have to be doing something pretty good," said Hawks guard Joe Johnson, who leads the team with 22.3 points per game.

Atlanta has already beaten Dallas once this season, winning 101-94 in its season opener behind 28 points from Johnson on Nov. 2 to snap a four-game losing streak against the Mavericks. This would be the Hawks' first series sweep of the Mavs since 2003-04.

A 107-95 win over Indiana on Wednesday night gave Atlanta a 9-3 record in December, marking its first nine-win month since going 9-7 in March 2002.

The Hawks have been slow to improve, going from 13-69 in 2004-05 to 30-52 last season. Johnson, though, said increased respect isn't his concern.

"We're not worried about that," he said. "Our main goal right now is to make the playoffs. Right now we're on a pretty good pace. We have to remember what got us there. That's defense."

Atlanta ranks among the league leaders in scoring defense at 94.9 points per game. The Hawks held the Pacers to 41.7 percent shooting from the field Wednesday, and limited the Mavericks to 43.8 percent in the teams' first meeting this season.

Dallas, meanwhile, has struggled on offense in two straight losses. After a five-game winning streak, the Mavs are averaging 85.5 points while shooting 39.6 percent in their last two contests.

In an 88-81 loss to Cleveland at home Thursday night, Dallas shot 20.0 percent (4-for-20) from 3-point range.

"We definitely don't like to lose and especially at home, but we'll get back to work," Mavs guard Devin Harris said. "We'll fix the things that we can fix and then we'll go from there."

Dallas is 13-3 at home, where it has won three straight and eight of nine against Atlanta.

Dirk Nowitzki had 28 points in November's matchup with the Hawks, and is averaging 27.5 in his last four games against them. He paced the Mavs on Thursday with 19 points and 20 rebounds, but played the whole game with tape around his shooting wrist and thumb and complained of a groin problem after the third quarter.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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