Dallas Mavericks vs. Atlanta Hawks Pick & Prediction
Dallas Mavericks (2-1, 2-1 ATS) vs. Atlanta Hawks (1-2, 1-2 ATS)
When: Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 – 7:00 pm ET
Where: State Farm Arena – Atlanta, GA
By: Kyle Cash, NBA Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DAL -1.5/ATL +1.5
I’m not going to lie – Blake Griffin really hurt my feelings last night. According to Basketball Reference’s Game Score calculation, that was the second best statistical game of Griffin’s career. I would say the and-1 finish to seal the victory and sink my daily NBA column would probably qualify it for “best game of his life” status, so let’s just leave it at that. At least Joel Embiid was true to form and sent Andre Drummond into Witness Protection by getting him ejected on a blatant flop. I’ll just pretend that the game ended there.
Wednesdays in the NBA are usually the busiest night of the week, and there are plenty of reasons to scour NBA Reddit streams buy NBA League Pass tonight. The Jazz head to Houston for a Western Conference battle royale, Joel Embiid squares off with Giannis Antetokounmpo over in Milwaukee, and Brooklyn and Cleveland are set for a Spider-man meme showdown in a game that has a real chance to end in a Browns-esque tie. But the juiciest game of the night takes place between the Human Brillo Pad Trae Young and the Chosen One Luka Doncic in the first rookie showcase of the season. Let’s do this thing!
Cool Hand Luka
My god, Luka Doncic is fun. He’s everything that you would want in your modern NBA guard: big body for switching on defense, a preternatural sense of time and spacing of teammates and defenders, a take-no-prisoners attitude in the clutch, and an element of flair in his playmaking that has you sitting on the edge of your seat. I don’t think that Doncic is ever going to be the Ben Simmons-type of stat-sheet stuffer, and he will be a good litmus test for how much someone actually understands about the game of basketball. Most importantly, him and Nikola Jokic have the best chance of being the first NBA Finals MVP with a Dad-bod since Paul Pierce in 2008. Long live out-of-shape NBA players! Shout out to you, Andre Miller!
Unfortunately for Mr. Doncic, this team is not going to the Finals anytime soon. They somehow are ranked 20th in pace but have allowed the 6th most amount of points to opposing offenses per game; in other words, they are really, really bad at defense. With DeAndre Jordan manning the middle and Harrison Barnes returning soon, Dallas’ defensive woes should theoretically improve, but a young backcourt and a dearth of wing depth are going to plague them on that end for the foreseeable future.
However, this ain’t your Grandfather’s Dallas Mavericks team; this team scores a ton! They are coming into this game with the 4th best Offensive Efficiency in the league, and versus a team like Atlanta that likes to push the tempo (2nd in the NBA in pace), the Mavericks will be able to play fast and loose. Doncic also does not strike me as the type of guy who would let someone he is being compared to in Trae Young get the best of him. Hopefully, we can get a breakout statistical performance from Luka in a high-scoring affair.
Better Offense than the Falcons
Atlanta opened the season with three straight road games, and they’ll get their first chance to showcase their young talent to their dozens of fans in their home arena on Wednesday night. The Hawks are a strange combinations of rookies, NBA journeymen and guys that they will trade for lottery-protected first rounders by February, and it’s not going to lead to a successful basketball team.
Trae Young nearly broke my brain around this time last year. His first 10 or so games before he started playing actual Division 1 basketball teams was the best Heat Check we’ve had since Steph’s MVP season, and I was here for it. Once we realized that the rest of Oklahoma’s roster was made up of a bunch of guys who will be going pro in something other than sports, everyone just said, “Well, when he gets to the NBA, he will have better teammates and he will be awesome.” Right now, we can only hope for the latter to come to fruition, because the amount of NBA-caliber teammates he has is largely up for debate.
Regardless, the Hawks are the perfect team to watch in a vacuum. They play at the league’s second fastest pace; they take more threes than almost anyone else in the NBA; and they have a point guard with a neon green light who shoots from 35-feet at his leisure. Blink and you’ll miss him.
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Quick Match-up Notes
· The Mavericks and the Hawks hoist the 1st and 4th most three-point field goal attempts per game, respectively
· No rookie has averaged 20 points and 8 assists since Oscar Robertson; Trae Young is currently averaging 23.0 points and 8.3 assists
It’s impossible for me to pick between these two stellar rookies. I believe that Luka Doncic has the skillset and the hoops IQ to lead a team to a championship in the same vein as his mentor, Dirk Nowitzki. However, Trae Young is, at worst, a highlight reel extraordinaire, and the deep ball has emerged as the most electric, back-breaking play in modern basketball. Dallas’ remaining talent is superior nearly across the board, but Atlanta’s wing guys are solid defenders who might be able to give Luka a bit of trouble. As we have found out over the course of this past week in the NBA, 238 is a middling amount of points to expect in a game, and with Atlanta dictating the pace in a home bout, we should see scoring outbursts from both teams. Betting the over allows me to remove my rooting interests and watch two outstanding offensive rookies go to battle, and I am all about creating a synergy between profitability and an enjoyable television viewing experience. Run it up, Luka!
Final Score Prediction: Dallas Mavericks 130 – Atlanta Hawks 120