The Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks are both well under the .500 mark on the season, but Washington is in the midst of a playoff chase. Atlanta’s 19-44 record is the second-worst in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards really aren’t all that much better (22-39), but they have quietly climbed to within 4.5 games of the last playoff spot in the conference. The Magic, who are only 27-35, are within striking distance.
The Wizards’ playoff chances were dealt a blow on their west coast road swing, however. Washington lost each of the last 2 games of the trip to Sacramento and Portland, which was disheartening considering those team’s aren’t exactly among the league’s elite, either. The Wizards are going to have to make up quite a bit of ground in a relatively short span of time, but they’re still mathematically alive.
Washington checks in as a 2-point favorite on Friday night with the Hawks in town. The game has a 245 over/under at MyBookie, which is one of the highest totals we’ve seen all year long. The Wizards beat the Hawks 111-101 in Washington on January 10, and the Hawks battled back with a 152-133 triumph over the Wiz in Atlanta on January 26.
Trae Young listed as questionable for Hawks due to illness
Ish Smith out for Wizards, Thomas Bryant expected to return
Hawks and Wizards have split 2 previous meetings so far this season
Will Young Suit Up?
Trae Young is the engine that makes the Hawks go. He has enjoyed a stellar individual campaign that hasn’t led to many wins, but the Hawks will obviously be even more up against it if he can’t play on Friday night. Young is averaging just under 30 points per game along with 9.3 assists while shooting 36 percent from 3-point range.
If he’s out, Atlanta will turn to the likes of Jeff Teague and Brandon Goodwin to run the point. The Hawks have gone 2-4 in the games Young has missed so far this season.
His absence would also lead to a bigger offensive workload for John Collins, while Kevin Huerter would also be given more ball-handling duties.
The total for this game is so high because both teams play at a fast pace, and neither is good at all on the defensive end. The Hawks and Wizards rank fourth and sixth, respectively, in pace factor. The Hawks have the third-worst defensive rating, allowing 111.9 points per 100 possessions. The Wizards are right below Atlanta, allowing over 113 points per 100 possessions. Only the Cavaliers have been worse than either team on the defensive end of the floor.
Wizards’ Fading Hopes
While the Wizards will likely wind up falling short of a playoff berth, the fact that they have at least made a run is a testament to Bradley Beal and Scott Brooks. Beal is in the midst of a career year, as he’s averaging over 30 points per game. That’s easily the best mark of his career, and he ranks second in the entire league in scoring average behind only James Harden. He has now scored at least 25 points in 20 consecutive games.
In his lone previous meeting with the Hawks this season, Beal scored 40 points on 12-for-22 shooting from the floor. That effort came in the Wizards’ aforementioned 19-point loss in Atlanta in late-January. Young finished with 45 points and 14 assists for Atlanta that night.
The Wiz have likely dug themselves into too deep a hole to catch Orlando or Brooklyn for a playoff spot, but they’ll hope to at least get back into the win column on Friday night.
Hawks vs Wizards Pick
I like the Wizards to take care of business at home. The Hawks have been one of the worst teams in the league this season, especially on the road. Atlanta is just 6-25 away from home compared to a more respectable 13-19 mark on their home floor. The Wizards have gone 14-15 at home.
The spread is a little small here, especially if Young winds up getting ruled out later in the day. The spread will shift more in the Wizards’ favor if we get that news before tipoff, so I’d take advantage of the low spread while you still can. Even if Young plays, it’s not like it’s unfeasible to think Washington could win this game by 3 or more.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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