Hawks vs. Knicks Preview: Bet New York to Cover on Christmas?

Action Network NBA betting contributor Joe Dellera previews Saturday's Christmas Day matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks.

Hawks vs. Knicks Odds

Hawks Odds +6.5
Knicks Odds -6.5
Over/Under 209.5
Time 12 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Atlanta Hawks head to New York on Christmas Day for a rematch of last season’s first-round playoff series where Trae Young lead the Hawks to a gentleman’s sweep of the Knicks.

However, with the league in a state of flux due to a surge of COVID cases, the Hawks may not be able to put forth their best players in this holiday matchup. We’ll navigate some of the ins and outs to prepare you for any situation.

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Can Atlanta Compete Without Its Star?

This is the Hawks first Christmas Day matchup since 1989, the longest drought of all the teams that have played on Christmas. Unfortunately for Atlanta, they may be without a few of their biggest stars. Trae Young, Clint Capella, Kevin Huerter, Sharife Cooper, Lou Williams, and Danillo Gallinari are all in the league’s health and safety protocols. While it’s possible that some are cleared by noon on Saturday, that would be quite the Christmas miracle for Hawks’ fans and backers.

Additionally, in Thursday’s win against the 76ers both Delon Wright and Cam Reddish left the game and did not return due to ankle injuries and they should be considered questionable for this matchup. If they are unable to go, John Collins will get all the shots he can handle and Bogdan Bogdanovic should see another Usage Rate over 30%.

At the time of this writing Bogdanovic’s prop lines have not been released, but in Thursday’s game his points prop was 14.5 and he cleared that but just barely while scoring 15 points. I would love his over in this Christmas matchup if it’s about 16.5 considering all of Atlanta’s injuries and that he took 16 shots on Thursday. That volume is something he should capitalize on if Reddish and Wright are also unable to go.

Young is clearly the straw that stirs the drink for this Hawks team. He has a +10.2 point differential per every 100 possessions on the season, he stretches the floor offensively with his shot making and he can create for his teammates with his excellent court vision. Without him, this offense scores a paltry 102.1 points per 100 possessions with a -5.8 point differential, per Cleaning the Glass.

Over the last two years, in the 11 games that Trae Young has missed the Hawks only average 103.5 points per game. While they’ve managed a 6-5 record in those 11 games, this team suffers dramatically on the offensive end in his absence.

Knicks Offense Turning a Corner

Fun fact: the New York Knicks have played 53 games on Christmas, the most in NBA history. Unfortunately, this has given them the opportunity to lose the most games on Christmas day (31). This year they hope to add to their win column instead.

The Knicks are fortunate to have returned Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, and RJ Barrett from health and safety protocols. However, they lost some depth with Nerlens Noel entering those same protocols and Derrick Rose who had been listed as day-to-day with an ankle injury that has since required surgery that will sideline the veteran for at least eight weeks.

Luckily for New York, Kemba Walker is absolutely on fire since returning from the exile and is coming off a 44-point performance against the Wizards. While 44 points is unlikely to repeat, this offensive infusion is exactly what the Knicks had hoped for when they brought Walker on board.

The Knicks will try to capitalize on their 3-point shooting in this game. With Walker back in the rotation, he dramatically improves this team’s 3-point percentages with his 42% mark on the season.

This is a spot to attack Atlanta, since they allow 3-point attempts on 38.5% of their opponent’s shots, eighth-highest in the league. With Atlanta’s injuries, this could be a get right spot for the Knicks’ shooters.

Hawks-Knicks Pick

The Knicks have truly struggled after their hot start, and they are just 3-7 over their last 10 games. However, with the Hawks’ injuries, they should be able to capitalize. To put it in perspective, the Knicks won 99-90 when these teams played on Nov. 27, and of the 11 Hawks that played in that game, only two are certain to play in this Christmas matchup.

Although Atlanta has seen strong performances from John Collins, Onyeka Okongwu, and Skylar Mays, if they do not return anyone else from health and safety protocols they are at a severe talent disadvantage against the Knicks.

Christmas Day favorites in the early game (12 p.m. ET start) are an incredible 10-4 ATS (+39.8% ROI) since 2005, per BetLabs. This may be a motivational issue or just a good spot to back the “better” team in what is an early game.

With this trend of Early Game Favorites coupled with the Hawks’ current roster, I’ll take the Knicks to bring their backers their first Christmas cover of the day.

Pick: Knicks -6.5