Signs of Improvement

The Atlanta Hawks' offense has been showing signs of improvement lately, but now they'll need to carry that success to the road.

The Hawks open a stretch of playing seven of eight games away from home beginning Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center, where they've won just twice in the last nine years.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Milwaukee –3.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 192 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on Atlanta +3.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Atlanta (17-17) defeated Denver 104-93 on Tuesday to win for the third time in four games after dropping a season-high four in a row. After scoring a season-high 69 points in the first half of Sunday's 105-84 win over Chicago, the Hawks led 65-44 at the break Tuesday by making 61.9 percent of their shots.

"We're playing well,'' said Atlanta's Marvin Williams, who had 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting against the Nuggets. "We're playing together.''

The Hawks, who have the league's eighth-worst scoring offense at 94.7 points per game, topped 100 for just the ninth time on Tuesday. Atlanta's offense has been even worse on the road, however, failing to hit the century mark away from Philips Arena, and is averaging a league-worst 88.5 points on the road.

The Hawks have lost three straight road games by an average of 13.0 points, and are 5-9 away from Atlanta. The home team has won each of the two games in the season series.

Atlanta lost 105-96 at the Bradley Center on Nov. 17, and has dropped 15 of 17 games in Milwaukee since 1998-99.

Hawks guard Joe Johnson had 22 points Tuesday after scoring 37 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range against the Bulls. Johnson is averaging 27.8 points on 50.7 percent shooting - including 10-of-17 from beyond the 3-point arc - in his last four games after averaging 8.5 points on 25.9 percent shooting - while missing all seven of his 3-point attempts - in his previous two.

Johnson has scored 35 points against the Bucks this season, and is averaging just 16.4 points against them in seven games since 2005-06 - his lowest average against any Eastern Conference team in that span. He is averaging only 13.8 points in his last four in Milwaukee.

The Bucks (15-23) return home for this game after losing all three games of a Western Conference road trip.

After winning four of its first five games of 2008, Milwaukee's winless road trip was capped with a 98-87 loss to Utah on Monday.

The Bucks entered Monday's fourth-quarter shooting 57.1 percent from the floor and clinging to a one-point lead, but things unraveled quickly. They were outscored 27-15 in the final period, shot only 2-of-18 from the field and went the first 7:25 without a basket.

Monday's defeat followed Saturday's 122-114 loss at Phoenix, where the Bucks were outscored 35-18 in the third.

"I think it's either the third or the fourth that's getting us at the moment," center Andrew Bogut said. "We can't seem to find a way to get wins at crucial times."

Bogut had another stellar performance Monday, finishing with 23 points and 10 rebounds. He is averaging 22.0 points - 9.0 points better than his season average - and 10.7 boards in his last three games, and has 39 points and 21 rebounds in the two games against the Hawks this season.

Michael Redd finished with just 16 points against the Jazz, and is averaging 18.7 points in his last three games after missing the previous four with a deep left thigh bruise. Redd has scored 45 points on 19-of-37 shooting against Atlanta this season.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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