Hawks vs. Lakers Preview: Is Los Angeles on the Upswing?

Action Network senior writer Matt Moore previews Friday's Hawks vs. Lakers game, including odds, picks, and predictions.

Hawks vs. Lakers Odds

Hawks Odds +2.5
Lakers Odds -2.5
Over/Under 225.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Two teams with big expectations for the season find themselves struggling this season. But with Trae Young and the Hawks in LA, it’s still a high-profile matchup.

Can the Hawks get a much-needed big win on their road trip, or will the Lakers keep their winning streak going?

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Atlanta Hawks

Young is questionable with a back injury but isn’t expected to miss the game. John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic are questionable due to conditioning as he returns from health and safety protocols. Cam Reddish is day-to-day. Gorgui Dieng and Deandre Hunter are both out.

Atlanta’s big problem is quite obviously its defense. The Hawks are 26th in adjusted defensive rating, per Dunks And Threes.

Their season has gone off the rails, and general manager Travis Schlenk said this week that roster changes were possible. Schlenk said he doesn’t view the problems as temporary.

With that said, the Hawks’ recent problems have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and injury issues. Atlanta’s record with De’Andre Hunter has been way better than when he’s on the shelf the last two seasons. Collins has missed the last week-plus in health and safety protocols.

The Hawks don’t have one problem defensively. They struggle in getting stops at the rim and on the perimeter. Opponents are shooting above expected marks, per Second Spectrum, but the Hawks are still allowing high percentage looks consistently.

Atlanta should get its own points. The Lakers have been a bad defense as well this year, and the Hawks boast a top-10 offense. In particular, without Anthony Davis, Young should feast against the Lakers’ bigs.

The only counter is when the Lakers play LeBron James at the five, but the Hawks rank 11th against switching defenses, which is how the Lakers defend with James at center.

Los Angeles Lakers

Could the Lakers actually be on the upswing? They’ve won three in a row to get back above .500. The move to put James more at the five has paid dividends.

The Laker have the third-best offense over the past two weeks, per CleaningTheGlass. Malik Monk has given them good minutes off the bench, and Russell Westbrook actually managed a game with no turnovers on Wednesday.

This matchup looks ideal for LA. The Lakers are 11-2 straight up this season against bottom-10 defensive teams this season, per CleaningTheGlass, with a positive spread differential.

Hawks-Lakers Pick

The big edge in this game for the Lakers is in transition. The Hawks have the second-worst points per possession mark in transition, while LA spends the third-most time in transition sets.

The Lakers should score fast buckets, and that will help them set their defense.

I have this modeled under at 220, but I think that’s overrating both defenses here. I have the Lakers as double-digit favorites in a matchup model based on the transition edge.

Wait to see if Collins plays. If he does, this is a stay-away. But if he doesn’t, I like the Lakers to -5.

Pick: Lakers -3.5