NBA Betting: Fade Atlanta Hawks, Play Dallas Mavericks
With the first week of the season in the books, NBA bettors should take stock of an exciting, at times surprising, start to the year. In doing so, we can hope to find value by assessing where both overreactions and under-reactions may come into play as teams adjust to the new NBA normal.
Fade: Atlanta Hawks
To be clear, there’s a ton to like about this new-look Atlanta team. The Hawks organization was lauded for a series of veteran additions that signaled an end to the team’s rebuild. The playoffs were now more than a goal, they were expected. Atlanta’s win total future surged during the truncated offseason, as Atlanta became one of the trendier teams to back before the start of the year. They’ve rewarded those believers with a 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS start to the year. The offense looks like it could be a Top-5 unit. Trae Young, if he’s not an MVP candidate, has a real shot at his first scoring title. Early improvements from young lottery picks De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish have accentuated the quality depth the Hawks certainly possess. The team is still yet to have Danilo Gallinari at full tilt, and defensive specialist Kris Dunn has not played. The future looks pretty bright in Atlanta.
That said, this upcoming run of games may be a good early opportunity to zig when others zag. While no one can hate on a 3-0 start, some caution is merited. Atlanta’s opponents so far are a mere 1-8 SU, and the only win of the bunch was Memphis’ overtime win against a Brooklyn team resting both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The other two, Chicago and Detroit, may end up being the worst two teams in the NBA. The Bulls have certainly looked the part so far. This week is Atlanta’s first real step up in class, as the team heads to Brooklyn for a two-game series against the Nets. Making matters worse, Brooklyn’s two superstars will be rested and, with a day between games, should play a lot in both encounters.
For all the praise Atlanta’s offense rightfully deserves, some of the issues that plagued Atlanta last year still remain. The team ranked 28th in TOV% last season (16.2%) and through three games has posted a TOV% of 17.0%. Atlanta’s defensive rating of 107.7 is an improvement, but still suggests an offense as loaded as Brooklyn’s could have its way. The Hawks remain intent on playing at a high pace, but that may play right into the Nets’ comfort zone, as Steve Nash and co. Are also dead set on ramping up the tempo. What’s more, while Atlanta’s offense may just be a force to be reckoned with, the shooting (48.2% from the floor and 41.6% from distance) cannot be sustained. The Hawks shot only 33.3% from three-point range last year, and while the team has more outside shooting than it did last campaign, it’s hard to see the team shooting at quite this clip.
Brooklyn, meanwhile, is only 2-2 SU and ATS to start the year. Although the regular season is hardly a priority, the Nets will want to get back in the win column, and the splash Atlanta has made to start the year should be more than enough to warrant their attention. The Hawks then have to travel home to play the second night of a back-to-back against a Cleveland team so far exhibiting great chemistry, toughness, and surprisingly good output from young backcourt duo Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. It will also be the Hawks’ fourth game in six nights. Atlanta is a much better team than it was a year ago, and this season will no doubt show that. But, this may be a time to pump the brakes just a little.
Play: Dallas Mavericks
Much has been made of MVP-favorite Luka Doncic’s lack of conditioning to start the season, and he has looked less than himself at times through Dallas’ 1-2 SU and ATS start. However, he looked very comfortable last time out, as his team obliterated the Clippers 124-73 (after leading 77-27 at halftime). Doncic only had to play 25 minutes in that game and should be fresh and rested for what looks to be a decent run of games for the Mavericks. Dallas has an evenly-balanced slate to close out this week, with rest between three matchups against Charlotte, Miami, and Chicago. The first two take place at home. Charlotte have looked a bit better than expected, but its undersized backcourt should struggle against Doncic, Hardaway Jr. and Jason Richardson. Luka had 39 points, 12 rebounds, and ten assists in his only game against Charlotte last year. Miami is a tough opponent but the Heat will be playing their third game in four nights, after a two-game playoff rematch at Milwaukee. Then, it’s off to Chicago for the Mavs, to play a Bulls team that will also be playing its third game in four nights, after two road games in Washington and Milwaukee.
While a 1-2 SU and ATS start is hardly ideal, the Mavericks did have a tricky early schedule (road games against Phoenix, and both L.A. teams), and should be happy to be home for a pair. More importantly, the underlying numbers remain strong. Dallas ranks fifth in offensive rating, ninth in defensive rating, third in AST/TO ratio.
The Mavericks have very high expectations of themselves this season, and it’s possible that the 0-2 start, including an embarrassing 138-115 loss on Christmas Day against the Lakers, has given them a sense of urgency for the time being. The Western Conference promises to be a bloodbath this year, and Dallas will very much like to avoid stumbling in what look to be a run of winnable games.