WE’RE officially a full week into the new NBA season and things are getting interesting.
There’s some good value to be found today so let’s jump to it;
Atlanta Hawks @ Washington Wizards
The Hawks are going about cementing themselves as a top-tier team in the East and a divisional showdown in Washington should allow them to flex their muscles a little.
Both teams come into this one off tough fought wins last night, but the Hawks were able to better manage the minutes of their stars, which will likely bear fruit for them here.
No Daniel Gafford for Washington will likely mean more Montrezl Harrell, and while the latter’s offensive capabilities can spark things for this team his liability on defence heavily outweighs his value against top teams.Expect plenty of pick-and-roll offence between Trae Young & John Collins to take advantage of that particular mismatch as well.
The Wizards defence has been surprisingly good to start the season, particularly in their ability to limit transition scoring. These schedule spots though tend to lend themselves to letdowns in the regard and if Washington isn’t able to generate stops in transition it’s difficult to see them being able to slow down Atlanta who own a significant advantage in the half court.
My number for this game comes out closer to 3.5 for the Hawks so while it’s not a huge market edge on raw numbers I do feel strongly about the way these teams are likely to matchup on the floor and the benefit Atlanta has in running with fresher legs.
Our best bet: Atlanta Hawks -2.5
New York Knicks @ Chicago Bulls
This game figures to be a ton of fun as the Bulls try to continue their perfect start to the new campaign.
The obvious factor for me is that Chicago is being a little overvalued after taking care of some pretty poor teams so far. New Orleans and Detroit (twice) are not playoff teams in their current states, and while the win at Toronto was their best so far it still left a lot to be desired against a team that still hasn’t found any offensive rhythm as yet.
The Knicks certainly present the biggest challenge so far for Chicago, particularly with how their offence has clicked behind the additions of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier.
The extra spacing that New York now has also means we get to see a more efficient and effective Julius Randle, who doesn’t have to worry about the defence collapsing on him every time he has the ball.
Now, Chicago’s offence has looked good in patches but it’s also shown signs of becoming stagnant in certain situations as we saw against Toronto.
Zach LaVine is still questionable and is playing with an injured thumb, which we know impacts shooters. Without his range of shooting this team is very thin on perimeter scoring where they’re already lagging.
Chicago currently ranks 30th in the league in percentage of shots taken from beyond the arc and if you aren’t stretching this New York defence you’re not going to be able to create good looks against them.
Even with home court advantage I still have the Knicks as -1.5 point favourites by my ratings. The value on the road team is slowly diminishing though after opening at +2.0 so you might want to grab them sooner rather than later.
Our best bet: New York Knicks win