The Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks have played .500 basketball over their last ten games, and they will meet tonight in Dallas. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be targeting the point total.
Arguably the best way to describe the Atlanta Hawks this season is streaky, as they are currently 22-22 and, after losing six out of eight games, they now find themselves on a three-game win streak. This is the first time Atlanta has won three straight since the beginning of November, and surprisingly, their defense has helped get them back in the win column.
On the season, Atlanta is ranked 20th in average points per game allowed, but over their last ten games, they have the ninth-best defensive efficiency rating in the league at 113.4. The Hawks’ ability to limit their opponent’s three-point shooting has been significant for them all season, especially recently. Over their three-game win streak, an opponent's highest three-point percentage was 26%, and on the season, Atlanta is now ranked first in opponent three-point percentage.
Offensively the Hawks are coming off a game in which they shot 59% from the field and 48% from three. However, to further solidify the fact that they are streaky, the Hawks’ offensive efficiency rating ranks 24th in the league over their last ten games, and their true shooting percentage ranks 19th.
The good news for them, though, is their opponent tonight has the second-worst defensive efficiency in the NBA over the last ten games at 121.5. The Mavericks are coming off a back-to-back against the Trail Blazers in which they allowed 136 and 140 points to be scored on consecutive nights.
Dallas will enter tonight off two days’ rest, but they will still be without Tim Hardaway Jr., who will be missing his second straight game due to an ankle injury. A lot of the Mavericks' offensive inconsistencies can be attributed to injuries this season, so we’ll see how they adjust again tonight.
The point total for this game is currently set at 233.5 points, and I’ll be taking the under as my best play. In the last eight meetings between these two teams, the under is 6-2, and in the previous seven games, the Mavericks have played on two days' rest, the under is 6-1.
Dallas is running at the 26th slowest pace in the NBA over the last ten games, and I expect them to try to slow it down tonight against a Hawks team that has run at the seventh fastest pace in the league in that same span. After two straight defensive disasters in their previous two games, I think the Mavs will also be looking to correct things on that end of the floor tonight.
Defensively for Atlanta, if they can continue to limit their opponent’s shooting percentage, they can make it difficult for the Mavs to find success since they rely more on shooting than paint scoring. Over the last ten games, the Hawks have held opponents to the 8th lowest shooting percentage in the league, and with the Mavs getting 36.5% of their scoring from three-pointers, it could be difficult for them to put together a big offensive showing.