Two explosive point guards meet today as Dennis Schroder’s 7-24 Atlanta Hawks take on Russell Westbrook’s 16-15 Oklahoma City Thunder (8pm ET Friday).
Atlanta was supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league this season, and it has been just that. The squad’s defense is extremely porous, while the offense is mediocre
The Thunder have struggled to start the season with their new trio of All-Stars, but their defense has remained rock-solid. Oklahoma City has won eight of its last 11 games and could be turning a corner.
How will the Hawks play on the road against Oklahoma City? A few storylines should be prominent in your mind as you decide how to bet for this contest. This preview will highlight them before concluding with our Hawks vs OKC betting predictions and picks.
Has Russell Westbrook Turned Over a New Leaf, Efficiency-Wise?
Westbrook will probably never be known as a super efficient player. In his MVP campaign a year ago, though, he had a very reasonable 55.4 true shooting percentage despite attracting almost all of the defensive attention to himself.
This season has been disastrous for him on the efficiency front. His true shooting percentage has dropped to 49.1, and he is turning the ball over on a larger percentage of the Thunder’s possessions when he’s on the floor.
However, he has turned things around in his last three contests, averaging 28 points per contest on a 61.5 true shooting percentage with just 2.7 turnovers per game. OKC needs this to be more than just a fluke.
Can the Hawks Control a High Percentage of Defensive Rebounds?
One area in which this game could quickly spin out of control for the Hawks is on the glass. Atlanta secures the lowest percentage of available defensive rebounds in the NBA. This isn’t surprising, given that they play small a lot and use finesse big men who aren’t particularly fearsome near the rim.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, Oklahoma City’s biggest strength on the offensive end thus far this season is its rebounding. Center Steven Adams, in particular, has been a maniac on the offensive boards, leading the NBA with 4.9 offensive rebounds per game.
Atlanta needs to play bigger lineups more often in this game to prevent the Thunder from killing it on the boards. Even that might not be enough.
Can Kent Bazemore & Taurean Prince Stay Competitive Versus Paul George & Carmelo Anthony?
Atlanta’s starting wing duo of Bazemore and Prince is a strength for the team. While they aren’t terrible starters, that says more about how bad the Hawks are than how good Bazemore and Prince are. The two young wings are merely decent players on both ends of the floor.
Oklahoma City has two All-Stars from last season in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony at the forward spots. Anthony is technically the team’s starting power forward, but I would assume Atlanta guards him with Bazemore or Prince instead of Ersan Ilyasova.
However, George and Anthony have both been extremely underwhelming on the offensive end of the floor this season. Both players have a bad habit of taking terrible shots that are well contested.
If the Thunder wings force a lot of shots and the Hawks’ wings are more patient and efficient, Atlanta could pull off the upset.
Our Preview’s Atlanta Hawks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Betting Predictions & Picks
The Hawks are 3-13 on the road, while the Thunder are 11-4 on their home floor. I truly believe OKC is figuring its chemistry out, and a game against the lowly Hawks would be a great way to continue that momentum. Here are this preview’s Atlanta vs OKC predictions and picks:
- You can find the Thunder being listed as 10.5-point favorites with most of the USA online sports betting outlets. This is a pretty accurate line, but OKC should win by a bit more than that on its home floor. The smart bet is going with the Thunder -10.5 @ -110 with 5Dimes or MyBookie.
- This game has a slightly lower than average projected total, at 205 in most places. I see the Thunder’s dominant offensive rebounding slowing this game down and preventing the Hawks from speeding the game up to their preferred pace. Bet on the under 205 total points in the game @ -110 with 5Dimes or MyBookie.
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.