In a surprising development, the 3-0 Atlanta Hawks are tied at the top of the Eastern Conference so far in this early NBA season, while the 2-2 Brooklyn Nets have struggled a bit.
Will these trends continue? We’ll see what the two teams have in store for fans on today as they start a two-game set in Brooklyn (7:30 p.m. ET Wednesday). Keep reading for USA Betting’s full preview with Hawks at Nets predictions and picks.
For the Hawks, All-Star point guard Trae Young has looked like an MVP candidate, averaging 34 points and 7.3 assists per game with excellent efficiency. The rest of the squad is playing well and starting to get healthy, as veterans Clint Capela and Rajon Rondo played their first games on Monday against the Pistons. Granted, Atlanta has had a very easy schedule so far.
Brooklyn had blowout wins over the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics to start the year, then lost to the lowly Charlotte Hornets before losing again to the Memphis Grizzlies without their best players, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Now, their No. 3 option in the starting lineup, Spencer Dinwiddie, is injured.
In the following preview, we’ll highlight some key factors that will determine the winner of this game, as well as how many combined points the teams will score.
Will the Nets Cut Down on Unforced Errors?
The Nets are all the way up at No. 1 in the NBA in defensive efficiency. However, despite shooting 40 percent from three-point range and possessing superstars in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the team is just No. 12 in offensive efficiency. The main reason for Brooklyn’s scoring struggles is its 18 turnovers per contest, which ranks fifth-worst in the NBA.
The problem with miscues is not coming from Durant and Irving, but from the role players. Caris LeVert is averaging three turnovers per game in just 26.8 minutes per game. Jarrett Allen, DeAndre Jordan, Landry Shamet and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot are averaging a combined 7.3 turnovers per contest despite all playing fewer than 22 minutes and not being featured in the offense.
Against a weaker defensive team like the Hawks, Brooklyn just needs to calm down on offense and run its sets, letting Durant and Irving get the bulk of the usage. The Nets should have no trouble putting up plenty of points if they limit their turnovers to 15 or fewer. After all, the Hawks only cause 11.7 turnovers per game by their opponent.
Can Trae Young Keep Living at the Free-Throw Line?
There are a lot of impressive aspects of Hawks point guard Trae Young’s game. Most people know him for his deep shooting range, amazing ball-handling abilities and slick passing, but it’s his ability to draw fouls that impresses me most. How is a scrawny 6’1” point guard able to average 15.3 free-throw attempts per game through three contests this season?
Young is extremely adept at baiting defenders into making contact with him through a variety of hesitation moves and quick reflexes. The moves help the Hawks win, too — dating back to the beginning of last season, Atlanta is 8-6 when Young takes at least 14 free throws, but is just 13-36 when he takes fewer than 14 free throws.
Brooklyn’s league-best defense will be a test for Young, as he hasn’t faced an opponent nearly this tough yet. The Hawks’ offense will go as far as Young’s extremely impressive skill set can take it against such a talented Nets team.
Will Hawks’ Big Starting Lineup Flex Their Rebounding Muscles?
I believe Atlanta’s biggest potential advantage in this game is rebounding. The team’s starting lineup, now that Clint Capela is back, includes Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins and Capela alongside Trae Young. That’s four players who are all at least 6’7” with good length, strength and explosiveness.
Brooklyn is last in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage (71.4). Centers DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen have been very strong on the glass, but they don’t play on the court together and no one else is really helping out much. The Nets’ third-leading rebounder is Caris LeVert at just 4.8 caroms per contest.
If the Hawks can start the game by carving out space down low on both ends of the court against a Nets team with less strength and size, this could end up being an Atlanta upset victory.
Our Preview’s Atlanta Hawks at Brooklyn Nets Betting Picks & Predictions
I feel as if both teams’ records right now are a bit misleading. The 3-0 Hawks are definitely going to be better this season than last year (20-47), but their schedule so far has been extremely soft when you take into account the key players who have been out for their opponents. The Nets’ 2-2 record would be 3-1 if they had played their superstars in the close loss against the Grizzlies, and the team was absolutely dominant in its two victories.
All this to say, I think Brooklyn will take this contest seriously, and the team’s talent will overwhelm Atlanta’s talent in this game. However, I do think the Nets will have trouble containing Trae Young and his offensive exploits without a great crop of perimeter defenders.
- The favorite in this contest is the Nets, who are projected to win by seven points with most of the U.S. online bookmakers. Put money on the Nets -6.5pts on the spread @ -115 with Bookmaker.
- Both teams are better on offense than defense, despite what we’ve seen so far from Brooklyn. The Nets will pile on the points with their plethora of scorers and at least Trae Young will light up the scoreboard for the Hawks. I advise betting the over 238 total points @ -105 with BetOnline.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.