Another week of NBA action is here and one of the games on the schedule to kick off the week will feature the OKC Thunder on a two-game win streak heading to Atlanta to take on the drama-filled Hawks. We’ll go over why you should bet against Atlanta tonight and then a further preview of the game.
The Atlanta Hawks have won two straight games but their most recent win came with a price, and that was the news of Trae Young skipping the game due to a spat with head coach Nate McMillan. The report didn’t break until after the game and has been heavy in the media cycle ever since.
Despite winning two straight the Hawks have been inconsistent over their last ten games, putting up a 5-5 record and a 110.4 offensive rating which is 22nd in the league in that span. Over those previous 10 games, they have also put up the second-lowest assist percentage in the NBA at 58.3%. The injury bug has also gotten to this Atlanta team a bit with John Collins and De’Andre Hunter both going down and expected to miss 1-2 weeks.
The Thunder also enter on a two-game win streak and as cover machines when they are underdogs. OKC is 12-5 this season when they’re an underdog plus this is just a good spot for them situationally. In their last two games, the Thunder have scored 119 and 135 points which are in large part due to how Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been playing.
Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 31.8 points per game over the last 10 games and should have no problems continuing this high-level play tonight against an average Hawks defense. Atlanta has been allowing the third most points in the paint per game and on the season OKC has been averaging 56.9 points in the paint per game which is second in the league.
Between the injuries and distractions, the Hawks are primed to struggle against a team with momentum.
Dejounte Murray and rookie AJ Griffin stepped up in Young’s absence against Denver, scoring a combined 58 points while going 6-12 from three-point range. Atlanta has had to rely mostly on Murray and their young core as of late with all the injuries and now with the “drama” surrounding the Young.
The Thunder’s young core has also been hitting its stride as of late, rookie Jalen Williams has averaged 13.4 points per game over the last 10 games including a 27-point performance on November 30th. Second-year player Josh Giddey has also looked strong putting up a double-double in both games during the win streak.
Despite the solid offensive play the Thunder have still struggled to click on the defensive end. In this recent 10-game stretch OKC is ranked 21st in the league in defensive rating at 114.1 and has been allowing 15.5 second-chance points per game. The strengths of both of these teams certainly lie on the offensive end of the floor.