Hawks vs. Nuggets Odds & Picks: Betting Value On Surging Atlanta This Sunday
Noah Graham/Getty Images. Pictured: Trae Young of Atlanta.
- Atlanta is one of the hottest teams in the NBA, winning nine of 11 since changing head coach.
- Denver is expected to suit up newly acquired Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee from the trade deadline.
- NBA analyst Roberto Arguello thinks the Hawks will continue to stay hot and spoils the new Nuggets' debuts.
Hawks vs. Nuggets Odds
|Moneyline||+148 / -180|
|Time||Sunday, 9 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings|
The Hawks face the Nuggets Sunday night in Denver in the second meeting between these teams this season.
The Hawks beat the Nuggets in their earlier matchup 123-115 on February 21st in Atlanta. The Hawks have surged in the Eastern Conference in March as they have won nine of 11 games since Nate McMillan was named the interim head coach. They are coming off of a 124-108 win over the Warriors behind a career-high 38 points from John Collins on Friday.
The Nuggets survived a career-high 37 points from Zion Williamson as Nikola Jokic scored 37 points himself in their 113-108 win over the Pelicans on Friday. The Nuggets are 4.5-point favorites on Sunday as they will play their first game with new acquisitions Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee.
If the Hawks hope to pull the upset against the Nuggets, they will need to continue playing great defense. Before Nate McMillan took over as head coach, the Hawks were 14-20 and ranked 22nd in defensive rating (excluding garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass) at 114.0. Since he was hired, the Hawks rank third in the NBA with a 108.8 defensive rating.
The Hawks also rank third in net rating at +9.2 since his hiring (behind only the 76ers and Suns), and they have been profitable for bettors backing them as they rank second in spread differential as they have covered by six points per game.
It is even more impressive to consider that the Hawks have improved this much defensively without their second-best defender, De’Andre Hunter, for nine of those 11 games in March. Hunter is the team’s best wing defender, and his -7.2 on/off defensive rating ranks in the 92nd percentile among forwards and trails only Clint Capela’s -9.3 defensive rating (per Cleaning The Glass).
Hunter is questionable to play on Sunday with a sore right knee while Kris Dunn (ankle), Lou Williams (recently traded) and Cam Reddish (Achilles) will all remain out for the Hawks.
The Hawks will need a complete defensive effort against the MVP-frontrunner Nikola Jokic and his Denver Nuggets. Capela needs to step up guarding Jokic while limiting the Nuggets on the offensive glass, as Denver’s 28.3% offensive rebounding rate ranks fourth in the league.
Trae Young tonight:
It’s his 12th 20p/15a game since entering league, the most by any player in that span. pic.twitter.com/qUhaNJ4p0p
— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 27, 2021
Trae Young must have an efficient scoring night while setting up his teammates with quality looks. He will need to penetrate the Nuggets’ defense so that the Hawks can take advantage of the Denver defense that is allowing opposing offenses to shoot the highest percentage at the rim (68.6%) in the NBA.
Collins is coming off of a career night on Friday, and if he and some of the Hawks’ shooters like Kevin Huerter, Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Tony Snell can get hot on the perimeter, the Hawks should have a great chance of covering or pulling the upset.
If the Nuggets cover as home favorites, they need shooters like Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to score efficiently. Greg Whittington (knee) is doubtful to play, while Monte Morris (strained left quad) is out against the Hawks.
Nikola Jokic is in the top tier of MVP candidates as he has been an unstoppable triple-double machine this season (averaging 27.2 points, 11.1 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game). Jokic is one of the best passing big men in the league’s history and is unguardable with his size and skill combination. He has been incredible this season, leading the Nuggets in a myriad of statistical categories.
Nikola Jokic leads the Nuggets in… just about everything pic.twitter.com/beIRoT8B4I
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) March 25, 2021
Murray and MPJ will need to step up and be efficient as the top scoring options behind Jokic. After struggling in December and January, Murray has bounced back in February and March, shooting over 44% on threes over the last two months.
MPJ also got off to a slow start this season after dealing with COVID-19 protocols for most of January. He shot just 32.9% from beyond the arc in February, but he has converted on 52.3% of his threes in March on 5.4 attempts per game. Their resurgence alongside Jokic has been a big reason why the Nuggets have won nine of 12 games in March despite dealing with significant injuries to rotation players.
The Nuggets will have Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee available for the first time on Sunday. While I am not expecting either to play a big role offensively in their debuts, Gordon will likely draw a key defensive matchup against John Collins. McGee will also need to step up on the glass when he is matched up against Clint Capela, the leading rebounder in the NBA.
While both teams have been playing their best basketball in March, I like the value on the Hawks and the points. The Nuggets have the MVP frontrunner in Jokic, but Clint Capela and the Hawks’ defense held Jokic to a season-low 33% from the field (5-of-15) and just 15 points in the Hawks’ upset win in March.
While I love the Nuggets’ acquisition of Aaron Gordon as he gives them a big wing defender (which will be important against the likes of LeBron, Kawhi and others in the playoffs), I expect there to be some growing pains as he finds his role on the team. The Hawks have been great against the spread this month, while the Nuggets have failed to cover in six of their last eight games as a home favorite. I like the Hawks at +4.5 with value down to +3.
Pick: Hawks +4.5 (bet down to +3)