Hawks vs. Mavericks Odds, Expert Pick, Prediction: Back Healthy Atlanta (January 18)
Cole Burston/Getty Images. Pictured: Dejounte Murray #5 and Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks.
- The Mavericks are short home favorites on Wednesday night against the Hawks.
- Both teams are getting key players back healthy, but which side has the edge?
- Chris Baker breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.
Hawks vs. Mavericks Odds
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We’re getting a battle of the two 2018 draft superstars who will forever be linked due to a draft-day trade. The Hawks essentially picked Trae Young over Luka Doncic, and for that reason, these two will forever be linked as it appears they may have made the wrong decision. This should be an exciting matchup, and the game is expected to be close, so let’s dive into which side may have an edge in Hawks vs. Mavericks.
Hawks Offense Should Thrive
The Hawks have improved since the start of the new year, as they are 5-3 this month and now sit one game behind the Pacers for the eighth seed. Overall, they are 22-22 and rank just 24th in Adjusted Net Rating according to dunksandthrees.com.
They’ve been getting healthier, and it shows as they have won three straight games leading into this one. The Hawks actually have a completely clean injury report tonight, so they will have no excuses here.
Consequently, the Hawks offense should have success here against a Mavericks defense that isn’t particularly elite at the guard position. The Mavs have plenty of wing defenders when healthy, but between Doncic, Spencer Dinwiddie and Tim Hardaway Jr., they don’t have the most ideal guys to match up with the speed of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.
They also don’t guard the pick and roll at an elite level, ranking 17th in points per possession (0.90) when defending pick and rolls.
The Hawks should also have success in the midrange as they rank first in the NBA in midrange frequency. Normally, this is a problem for me when evaluating an offense, but it could serve them well here as the Dallas defense does a good job of forcing midrange shots, ranking 21st in midrange rate allowed. The Hawks are accustomed to these looks and this could actually be an advantage for them here.
I also expect the Hawks to control the offensive glass with Clint Capela back in the lineup. With Capela on the floor, the Hawks rank in the 80th percentile in Offensive Rebound Rate (29.8%). This could be an issue for a smaller Mavericks team that ranks just 16th in Defensive Rebound Rate. I expect the Hawks to have success on the offensive end tonight.
Mavericks Defense May Get a Boost
The narrative around the Mavericks has been much different than the Hawks, yet in reality they sit just 1.5 games in front of them in the standings at 24-21. I certainly view the Mavs as the much better team, but they have struggled defensively since losing Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Green and Maxi Kleber to injury.
With those three guys off the floor, the Mavericks are allowing 119.1 points per 100 possessions (12th percentile). That would make them the second-worst defense in the NBA if we compared it to season-long Defensive Rating. This Mavericks defense has been woeful without them, but luckily they will get Finney-Smith and Green back tonight.
With these two on the floor, the Mavs have a Defensive Rating of 108.5 (94th percentile), better than the league-best Grizzlies defense who have a Defensive Rating of 109.1.
On offense, I expect Doncic to have his way with his defender as the Hawks are pretty much completely devoid of wing defense outside of De’Andre Hunter. Doncic should get his, but the rest of the Mavs may struggle as this Hawks team does a great job of limiting three point looks. Atlanta ranks third best in the NBA in opponent 3-point Attempt Rate, and that sets them up well against a Mavs offense that ranks second in 3-point Rate.
The Hawks struggle to defend at the rim, as they rank 28th in Opponent Rim Rate Allowed. The Mavericks offense doesn’t really exert much pressure on the rim, ranking just 26th in Rim Rate. Overall, I think this Hawks defense will struggle to contain Doncic but should do a decent job of limiting his supporting cast.
I was ready to fire on the Hawks here at +3.5, but since then Finney-Smith and Green have both been ruled in. I have a lot of respect for these two guys, but I expect there to be some rust initially, so I will be playing the Hawks on the first-half moneyline at plus money.
With Hardaway Jr out, I expect the Mavericks to start slow as they will be forced to massively adjust their lineup given his absence and the returns of Green and Finney-Smith. We also should see Capela return to the starting lineup, and that would be the first time the Hawks' full starting five has started together in months.
This Hawks starting five has actually been effective, ranking in the 78th percentile with a Net Rating of +10.5. Expect them to start hot as they look to build on their three-game winning streak against a rival Dallas Mavericks team.