The NBA playoffs are right around the corner, and while some teams try to fight for a good seeding position, the rest are looking forward to the NBA lottery. A prime example is the game between the Wizards and Hawks as Atlanta prepares for the play in tournament while Washington prepares for the draft. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’m targeting a first-quarter bet in this one.
Over the last ten games, the Washington Wizards have gone 2-8 overall, and with three games left in the season, they have essentially shut down most of their team. In their most recent loss to the Bucks last night, the Wizards allowed 140 points, with six members of the Bucks finishing in double figures. That defensive performance isn’t appalling since the Wizards rank 26th in defensive efficiency over the past ten games.
Offensively, the Wizards scored 128 points last night and were led by Kendrick Nunn, who had 24 points off the bench. Rookie Johnny Davis added 20 points himself, but overall, over the past ten games, Washington ranks 21st in offensive efficiency, which gives them a NET rating of (-6.3). Washington is in the midst of a “let’s see what he have here” position to end the season, so the nightly offensive output has varied depending on which player steps up.
Washington will take on a Hawks team that has won two straight games and is looking to build momentum leading up to the postseason. Far and away, the biggest concern for Atlanta entering the playoffs is their defense, and last night they turned in their best defensive performance of the past ten games with a 123-105 win over the Bulls. The Hawks rank 19th in defensive efficiency in that span, with opponents shooting an average of 50.4% from the field against them.
The Hawks’ offense has remained dangerous, and in that ten-game span, they rank 6th in offensive efficiency. In last night’s win, they shot 56% from the field and managed to do that without Trae Young, who missed the game with an illness. Saddiq Bey continued to positively impact the team last night, finishing +19 for the game with 18 points and four rebounds and assists.
For my play in this one, I’ll be targeting the Atlanta Hawks’ first-quarter spread of (-3.5). Over the last ten games, the Hawks are 8-2 ATS in the first quarter and 6-4 ATS in the first quarter of their last ten home games. Conversely, Washington has gone 4-6 ATS in the 1Q of their last ten road games.
In that same ten-game span, the Atlanta Hawks have a first-quarter NET rating of 15.6, which is the fifth best in the league, while Washington has a NET rating of (-4.5) in the 1Q, which ranks 16th. No team in the league in that stretch has gotten off to better offensive starts than the Hawks, as their 136.3 offensive efficiency rating is the best in the NBA in that span.
Atlanta has managed the fifth-best field goal and three-point shooting percentage in the first quarter across the last ten games, and they are also second in assists as well. Even if Trae Young cannot play tonight, I trust that the Hawks can get off to a strong start right from the tip and continue their impressive offensive play against a depleted Wizards team.
Atlanta Hawks 1Q (-3.5)