- The Hawks play at the fastest pace in the NBA, which gives them a strong advantage tonight over a Clippers team that played yesterday.
Here are Three at 3's top plays for Monday's action.
1. New York Knicks at Charlotte Hornets (-12)
7:00 pm ET
Despite looking strong lately, having won four of their last six games, the Hornets certainly wouldn't be double-digit favorites against most NBA teams tonight. But a home game against the New York Knicks—who are playing on the second night of a back-to-back, no less—is a special occasion. New York has lost nine straight games and 17 of its last 18, and has the league's sixth-worst average margin against the spread this season (-1.4). Charlotte, on the other hand, ranks 10th in the league in home cover percentage (58.3%) this year. Still not convinced of a middling Hornets team's ability to cover such a large spread? Consider this trend: Since 1996, favorites of 10 or more points with a losing record that have won four or five of their last six games are 54-21 against the spread. That trend is 3-0 this season and 10-1 over the last three seasons. Charlotte hasn't played since Friday night, and should run a tired Knicks team off the floor this evening.
Pick: Hornets -12
2. Denver Nuggets at Memphis Grizzlies (+6)
Not to be reductive, but the Nuggets are great and the Grizzlies are terrible, and this line with Denver as a relatively short favorite looks juicy as a result. That's always a cause for further inspection, and there are indeed plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the Nuggets in tonight's game. While Denver is a league-best 22-4 at home, the Nuggets are merely .500 on the road straight up (11-11), and 8-13 against the spread. They've lost two straight on the road, including 102-93 in Phoenix on January 12 as a nine-point favorite. Memphis, meanwhile, took a step in the right direction on Saturday with a 106-103 upset home win over Indiana as a five-point underdog. Despite all of the trade speculation swirling around the team, the Grizzlies are still fighting at the Forum.
Pick: Grizzlies +6
3. Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Clippers (-6.5)
The aforementioned trend that touts Charlotte over New York tonight has a sort of inverse cousin that applies to Hawks-Clippers: Over the last three seasons, home favorites of 3.5 to 9.5 points with a winning record that have won four of their last five are 58-98 ATS when playing a team with a losing record. Los Angeles, while having reeled off three straight wins, is playing shorthanded without second-leading scorer Danilo Gallinari. Plus, the Clips figure to be residually winded on zero days rest after a Sunday matchup with the Kings, who rank second in the league in pace this season. The Hawks happen to rank first, and figure to use their fresher legs to their advantage on the road.
Pick: Hawks +6.5
Overall Record: 113-98-4