NBA Betting: Analyzing the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks
With a busy week of NBA action ahead, let’s take a look at a few two and the road that they face over the next seven days.
The Atlanta Hawks were the first surprise of the young NBA season. The Hawks won their opening two games of the year against Detroit and Orlando. And then a close loss to title-contending Philadelphia was another sign that Atlanta’s young team may be on an accelerated developmental path. Second-year point guard Trey Young won the first Eastern Conference Player of the Week award, and was showing a polished command of head coach Lloyd Pierce’s offense. Then, Young sprained his ankle, and the Hawks lost twice in a row to division rival Miami. Things then went from bad to horrendous when young star John Collins was suspended for 25 games for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. Despite winning against San Antonio in their first game following the Collins suspension, the wheels have come off for the Hawks. Double-digit losses to Chicago and Sacramento sapped what was left of the early-season enthusiasm.
Atlanta is on its first west coast road trip of the season. Despite a spirited effort, the Hawks fell 124-113 in overtime to Portland to start its travels. Now, the Hawks embark on a brutal gauntlet that has them playing four road games in seven days: Nuggets, Suns, Clippers, and Lakers. These four opponents are 17-5 at home and are all in the top six in the Western Conference. This series of games would present problems in the best of times, but the loss of Collins makes these matchups potentially disastrous.
This road trip was always likely to be a struggle for Atlanta. This is one of the youngest teams in the entire league, and one that relies heavily on rookies and second-year players. Kicking off this stretch having to play at altitude against the 7-2 Nuggets could really drain the Hawks before they close out the road trip with back-to-back games in Los Angeles. This will be a huge test of focus for a youthful roster that is not really expected to compete at the highest level this season.
After a solid start, the Hawks net rating has fallen off, currently sitting at -4.3, the 23rd ranked mark in this category in the NBA. This is despite a fairly easy schedule to start the season. The Hawks have only faced three teams currently ranked in the top 10 in net rating (6th ranked Miami, 9th ranked Philadelphia, 15th ranked San Antonio). The Hawks are 1-3 in those games. Now, Atlanta will face three teams in the top 7, and a Denver team ranked 12th, and playing its best basketball of the year. Things will likely get worse before they get better.
While the Pistons may not take off even with Blake Griffin back, the Boston Celtics may not fade after getting news they’ll be without Gordon Hayward for the foreseeable future. Hayward put the league on notice that he had returned to form over the first eight games of the Celtics’ season. Averaging 18.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 4.1 APG on 55.5% field-goal shooting, Hayward had been critical to turning the Celtics into the most balanced offense in the NBA. While there’s no doubting that things won’t come quite as easy to Boston without Hayward, this Celtics team has also just welcomed back Jaylen Brown, who missed three wins, including a double-digit win against Milwaukee, with an illness. It is encouraging for Boston backers that the Celtics were able to play at a high level without Brown, who himself looks to be ready to take a leap in his fourth season. Brown is playing far more aggressively, showing an ability to finish at the rim that was lacking during his previous campaigns. In Saturday’s 20-point against the Spurs in San Antonio, Brown was spectacular as he helped cope with the loss of Hayward. Brown put up 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists on 10-for-18 shooting. If he can come close to replicating Hayward’s offensive output, the Celtics may not regress as much as some may think.
There’s nothing much to hate about the way the Celtics have started: 8-1 SU, 6-2-1 ATS and the best net rating in the NBA thanks to a 2nd ranked offense and 8th ranked defense. Concerns about a lack of size are warranted, but so far the Celtics have managed to hold their own in the paint, using defensive wizard Marcus Smart in a myriad of ways, and leaning on the huge defensive improvement shown by young star Jayson Tatum. Centers Daniel Theis and Robert Williams have been better than expected, and Enes Kanter returned last night vs. Dallas.
The schedule is not too difficult this week especially after getting past the Mavericks, 116-106. The Celtics face Washington, a decimated Warriors club, and the Sacramento Kings; all of which appear to be winnable. There’s the slight problem of having to travel in the middle of the week to play in California, so it will be important to monitor the early games this week to get a feel for how the Celtics have reacted to the loss of Hayward.