For the second double-header of the play-in games, the first game on Wednesday, April 13th is going to between the Atlanta Hawks vs the Charlotte Hornets at 7PM ET.
The Hawks have to be disappointed with how their season ended up after they were two wins away from advancing to the NBA finals last year. The Hornets, meanwhile, have a young and fun team but could never put any consistent basketball together on the season as a whole.
Funny enough, there are a ton of similarities between these two teams.
The Hawks finished 14th in Net Rating, while the Hornets finished 16th. They are both strong offensively, but struggle on defense. The Hawks have the 2nd best offensive Net Rating in the entire NBA, while the Hornets aren’t far behind them at 8th.
Defensively, the Hawks have the 5th worst defense, with the Hornets again not far ahead of them with the 9th worst defense.
Both teams are also led by exciting, young, and playmaking point guards.
Looking at the Hawks specifically- As mentioned earlier, they have had a disappointing season this year. They took the Bucks to 6 in the Eastern Conference Finals, and a lot of people (including yours truly) thought they would take a step forward in this regular season. You see this happen a ton in sports, with teams using a successful playoff run and carrying that success into the following season.
That did not play out for the Hawks, though. It was quite the opposite, in fact. They finished this year 43-39 and 14th in Net Rating in the NBA, as previously mentioned. Last year, they finished 41-31 (Covid shortened season) and the 11th highest Net Rating.
Looking at the roster specifically, I was expecting Trae Young to have a season worthy of being in the MVP conversation, but instead he was merely great, as opposed to elite.
He finished the season averaging 28.4 points, 9.7 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game on 35.5% shooting from deep. The real problem with the Hawks is none of their other young talent stepped up, and some even regressed.
The highest profile member of the Hawks who regressed was John Collins. He went from averaging over 21.5 points in 2019-2020 to 17.6 last year, and this year he was down to 16.3. Counting stats were down, and also visually you could tell something was up.
There were whispers before the trade deadline that he was unhappy with his role and that he was a potential trade target, but nothing materialized. If the Hawks want to go on another playoff run, let alone even make the playoffs, they are going to need him to step up.
On the other side of the court, the Hornets might be the most visually entertaining team to watch, but that never translated to anything more than mediocrity.
They sometimes look like the showtime Lakers on offense with LaMelo running the point and high flyers such as Miles Bridges throwing down dunks, but what comes with excitement they lack in execution.
Unsurprisingly, they finished tied for 4th in the NBA pace of play. They love to run the *ball* up and down the floor with LaMelo as the leading ball handler.
Along with the young and exciting talent they do have a couple of stable veterans in Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier. Hayward specifically had played well this year, but has been limited recently with an ankle injury that cost him a couple months.
I had trouble getting a read on this game, as part of me wants to back the Hawks as a faith play for going on that playoff run last year, but then I get pulled back to how disappointing they were this year.
I ended up settling on the Hawks moneyline as my official pick, though.
This is a Positive Expected Value bet that I was able to lock in on BetRivers at -177 odds. The OddsJam Perfect Line prices their moneyline to at -194, so there is a little bit of value there.
I just think that the Hawks have another level to get to while I’m not sure the Hornets are ready yet.
Atlanta Hawks vs Charlotte Hornets Pick:
My official NBA betting pick for this game is to take the Atlanta Hawks moneyline. I got this at -177 on BetRivers Sportsbook.
Atlanta Hawks vs Charlotte Hornets Prediction:
My prediction for this game is that the Hawks will win 121-119.