With six games remaining in the NBA season, both the Nets and Hawks are trying to solidify their Eastern Conference playoff positioning, so the importance of each game cannot be understated. We’ll preview tonight’s matchup before going over why I’ll be targeting a first-half bet in this one.
Over the past ten games, the Atlanta Hawks have gone 5-5, but they will enter tonight off a much-needed win over the Cavaliers. Atlanta’s offense, which ranks third in offensive efficiency over the recent ten-game stretch, came to the rescue and scored 120 points to give the Hawks a 120-118 victory. Offense is far from a concern heading into the postseason, as it's the Hawks’ defense that will determine how far they advance.
Entering tonight, Atlanta is 25th in defensive efficiency over the last ten games, as in that span, they have allowed 118 or more points in eight of those games. Opponents are shooting a whopping 51.3% from the field in that span which is the second-highest field goal percentage being allowed in the league. Even in their most recent win, the Hawks still allowed the Cavs to shoot 51% from the field.
Atlanta will take on a Nets team that they recently beat a month ago in a high-scoring affair. The Nets sit two spots ahead of the Hawks in the Eastern Conference, but they have played below .500 basketball over their past ten games. Brooklyn will also come into tonight off a win over the Houston Rockets, which gave them their second win over the past eight games.
The Nets have put up a (.1) NET rating over their last ten games, which ranks 18th in the league. Unlike the Hawks, the Nets don’t have one area they have been exceptional in, which has them ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of both offensive (117.1) and defensive (117) efficiency ratings. Aside from Mikal Bridges, averaging 28.7 PPG over the last ten, the Nets' offense has been inconsistent in terms of shooting, as the Nets' effective field goal percentage over this recent stretch is 20th in the NBA.
The Atlanta Hawks’ first-half spread is currently set at (-1), and I’ll be targeting that for my play in this one. Over the last ten games, the Nets are 2-8 ATS in the 1H, and those slow starts are made clear through their first-half numbers. Over that span, Brooklyn is 27th in the league in 1H NET rating (-9.9), and a big reason for that is their brutal defensive starts to games. Only the Nuggets have a worse 1H defensive efficiency rating over the last ten games, and the teams are only separated by (.1).
The Hawks have done an excellent job establishing themselves on offense right from tip-off and have the 5th best offensive efficiency rating to show for it. With Atlanta’s 59.2% true shooting percentage in the first half, they have a solid 1H advantage against this Nets defense that is 29th in first-half field goal percentage.
Neither side has been impressive on defense lately, but the Hawks’ offense has shown they have the advantage when it comes to first-half scoring recently. The game may still be a high-scoring affair like the last contest between the two teams, but I expect the Hawks to go into halftime with a lead, much like they did in the previous meeting.
Atlanta Hawks 1H (-1)