Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Clippers NBA Pick for January 28th
It’s easy to forget that the Atlanta Hawks won 60 games in a season just 3 years ago. An awful lot has changed since, and now Atlanta is firmly entrenched in a rebuilding process. That 60-win core has since been gutted, and the Hawks are now building up from the bottom with young players and a brand new coaching staff.
The Clippers’ Lob City era came to a close without the team advancing as far as the Western Conference Finals. While many thought the team was headed for a rebuild of their own when they traded Blake Griffin to the Pistons around a year ago at this time, the Clippers have tried instead to remain relevant.
L.A. missed out on the playoffs last year, but they haven’t bottomed out the way many thought they might. If the playoffs began today, the Clippers would sneak in as the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed, just ahead of the intracity rival Lakers.
There’s no telling whether the Clips will be able to hang on over the season’s final few months, but it’s been an encouraging campaign for them, nevertheless.
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The following odds are courtesy of live odds feed:
|2019 ATS Home||7-14-0||14-11-0|
|2019 ATS Away||14-13-0||14-11-0|
|2019 O/U Home||12-9-0||14-11-0|
|2019 O/U Away||14-13-0||10-14-1|
It’ll probably be a while before we see the Hawks competing to win 60 games in a season again. Still, they have already made notable strides after getting off to quite the underwhelming start.
A lot for Atlanta depends on how Trae Young develops. The Hawks made the bold decision to trade the draft rights to Luka Doncic in order to get Young with the No. 5 overall pick in last summer’s draft. There were plenty of question marks surrounding Young’s potential. He’s a bit small, even for a point guard, especially in the weight department.
Those concerns have come true to a degree. Young has really struggled defensively, and there’s a decent chance he never develops into much on that end. Still, the Hawks are optimistic that his dynamic offensive game will make up for it. Young drew favorable comparisons to Steph Curry during his time in college thanks to his seemingly endless shooting range.
Young has flashed that ability at times during his rookie season, but he is still shooting just 29 percent from 3-point range on the season. Some of it has to do with the degree of difficulty on some of his shots, and the longer 3-point line in the NBA tends to be an adjustment for most players coming out of college.
The Hawks should be encouraged, though. One would imagine the shooting will come. Young has shown an incredible ability to make plays for others, and there’s a good chance he’s already one of the best passers in the entire league. In all, Young is averaging 16.2 points and 7.3 assists per game on the season.
The assist average leads all rookies by a pretty hefty margin, while the scoring average ranks third behind Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton.
Atlanta also has a young star on its hands in John Collins. Collins didn’t get a lot of attention as a rookie, but so far this season he has taken a clear step toward stardom. After averaging 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as a rookie, Collins is all the way up to 19.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game so far this season.
Collins is one of just a handful of players averaging a double-double, and if he can up his scoring average just a bit he will be in rarefied 20-and-10 air.
Wins have still been hard to come by for Atlanta, but they have clearly improved as the season has progressed. Lloyd Pierce looks like he’s going to be the coach there for years.
Atlanta plays at the fastest pace in the league, which can obviously lead to some high-scoring games. The Hawks are just 26th in the league in defensive efficiency, allowing 109.6 points per 100 possessions.
Despite no longer having any superstars on the roster, the Clips are still fighting for a playoff berth. L.A. enters Monday night’s game having won 3 in a row overall, including a victory on Sunday afternoon over the Kings at Staples Center.
The Clippers have cooled since their surprisingly hot start to the season. While making the playoffs this year would be a nice story, we know the Clippers really have their eyes on the summer. LAC is expected to have plenty of cap room to chase star free agents like Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and others.
They’re essentially just biding their time until then. Tobias Harris has looked like a star since coming to Los Angeles in the Blake Griffin trade. The 26-year-old is averaging a team-high 21.1 points per game this season.
Perhaps most impressively, Harris has connected on 43.2 percent of his looks from 3-point range. It wasn’t that long ago that Harris was one of the worst 3-point shooters in the league.
The fact that he has worked his way into becoming one of the game’s best marksmen is a testament to his work ethic. The Clips have a number of other worker bee types, like Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Danilo Gallinari leading the way.
The Clips are another team playing at a fast pace struggling with defense. LAC ranks 22nd in defensive rating, and they’ve played at the ninth-fastest pace in the league this season. The Clippers will likely struggle to contain Collins considering opposing bigs have been giving them fits all year.
The Clips are just 19th in the league in rebound rate, and their centers have struggled to defend all season long.
The Clippers, having played yesterday, could keep this game somewhat close. The Hawks have had a day off in order to get ready for this one. This will be the second and final meeting between the teams this season. The Clippers picked up a 127-119 win in Atlanta back in late-November, but quite a bit has changed with both teams since then.
The Clips will be without Gallinari again tonight as he continues to deal with back spasms. The Hawks, meanwhile, are missing Kent Bazemore, but the rest of their rotation is still intact. Bazemore’s absence has led to more playing time for youngsters like Kevin Huerter and DeAndre Bembry, who have fared well with larger roles.
I just think the Hawks can make this game interesting. I’m expecting a close, high-scoring battle here. I think the over on 231 ½ points is a fair bet, but my favorite value is taking Atlanta to cover the 6 point spread. I’m not bullish on the Hawks’ chances of winning this game outright, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were competitive for 4 quarters.
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