nba
29.02.2024

Atlanta Hawks @ Brooklyn Nets Game Preview and Pick: Atlanta Keeps Rolling Without Trae

Losing your leading scorer typically does not make a team better, but in a small sample size, that seems to be the case with Trae Young and the Hawks. In the two games Atlanta has played without Young, they have looked better on both ends of the floor, and they certainly have the chance to continue that high level of play tonight against a Nets team that has lost five of their last six games.

Between the Hawks’ drastic improvement on the defensive end and the Nets' rapid free fall as an offensive unit, I think Atlanta has a ton of value in this matchup as an underdog, even with being on the road.

Game Preview

In today’s NBA, even the least efficient offenses are typically scoring at least 100 points. As true as that may be, the Brooklyn Nets are currently the outlier to that statement since they’ve failed to score more than 93 points in four of their last five games.

After the Nets scored 111 against a depleted Grizzlies team, they returned to being a well-below-average offense by scoring just 81 points on 39% shooting from the field against the Magic on Tuesday night. Even though Orlando is a top-tier defensive team, scoring 81 points in today’s NBA is almost unheard of, but with Brooklyn’s current roster construction, they may continue to score under 100 points.

It’s rumored that Brooklyn is preparing to build around Mikal Bridges, and while that may be a solution for the future, it does nothing for their offense now, which desperately lacks scoring depth. Outside of maybe Cam Thomas, the Nets don’t have anyone who can carry an offense if Bridges is struggling, which is precisely what happened recently.

By scoring just four points against the Magic, Mikal Bridges is averaging 16.9 points per game over his last ten games, well below his season average of 21.05 PPG. On top of Bridges struggling, Cam Thomas is currently out with an ankle injury, so it’s up to role players to carry the bulk of the scoring.

This gameplan could have possibly worked against the Hawks from earlier in the season, but since they’ve returned from the break, Atlanta ranks 3rd in the league in points allowed per 100 possessions in non-garbage time (102), per Cleaning the Glass. In their last two games, the Hawks have held their opponent to under 100 points, and since the break, opponents are shooting just 43% against them from the field.

Pick for the Game

Even with their recent success, bookmakers like Circa Sportsbook currently have the Hawks as (+1.5) point underdogs, and I think they could be the best underdog play of the night in the NBA. Since returning from the break, the Hawks offense has also been efficient, ranking 10th in points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time, according to Cleaning the Glass.

Dejounte Murray has been able to get everyone involved over the past two games, and without Trae Young in the lineup, that has led to two very well-balanced scoring games. Murray dished out 11 assists in the Hawks’ most recent win over the Jazz, and in turn, they had five guys score at least 16 points. With more balance, the Hawks don’t need to rely on the three-ball, making them an even tougher offense to keep pace with.

For the Nets, they don’t have an offensive identity at the moment, but over their last ten games they’ve gotten 35.5% of their points from three, per NBA.com. Well, not only is Mikal Bridges ice cold from the field, but they won’t have Cam Thomas again tonight, and the Hawks have allowed the 12th-lowest three-point percentage in the league since the break.

Recap

  • Atlanta Hawks (+1.5)(-110) on Circa

*odds subject to change

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