Knicks vs. Hawks: Atlanta Has Edge on Shorthanded 'Bockers

Action Network contributor Kenny Ducey previews Friday's matchup between the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks, including his betting prediction.

Knicks vs. Hawks Odds

Knicks Odds +2.5
Hawks Odds -2.5
Over/Under 231
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The New York Knicks are in a bit of turmoil at the moment, and running into a red-hot Atlanta Hawks team at State Farm Arena is the last thing they need.

Atlanta has now won in four straight as it continues its march up the Eastern Conference standings and  is getting some massive games out of its role players. Let’s examine the road team’s chances to pull an upset in our Knicks vs. Hawks predictions below.

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New York Knicks

Things had just begun to look up for the Knicks with seven wins in eight games before Mitchell Robinson went own with a thumb injury that will keep him out multiple weeks. Now, they have to face life without a vital part of their defense and (surprisingly) offense.

The Knicks’ Offensive Rating with Robinson on the floor this season sits at 118.0, nearly eight points higher than when he is on the bench. With his primary backup, Isaiah Hartenstein, New York is scoring 110.3 points per 100 possessions. It seems fitting given the inconsistent nature of Hartenstein’s play, but the good news here is that the rebounding numbers have largely been the same regardless of which big man are out there for head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Another positive that we can look at here in the wake of Robinson’s injury is the fact that the Knicks’ numbers on defense haven’t been all that different with Hartenstein. While Robinson stands among the league’s elite big men with a 43.4% defended field goal percentage this season to rank among the 10 best bigs in the NBA, Hartenstein isn’t too much further down that list at 46.3%. As we’ll get to in a second, that should be a major factor on Friday.

Atlanta Hawks

First off, the Hawks have some injury concerns we need to address. Trae Young is listed as questionable here with left ankle soreness, and Bogdan Bogdanovic is also questionable with knee soreness. Those are two critical pieces for this team, though Bogdanovic has been in a bit of a funk of late with a 27.3% field goal percentage in the last three games and four three-pointers in his last 17 attempts.

Perhaps that could provide a needed refresh for the Hawks on offense. While their run of five wins in six games has been impressive, Atlanta ranks just 14th with 116.4 points per 100 possessions over that span. This team has managed to get to this point on the back of its defense, and its defense alone.

I would also like to point out here that the Hawks’ offense has been noticeably better in the last two games with Clint Capela back in the fold. After missing 10 games, he’s returned with 28 points on 13-of-17 shooting in roughly 21 minutes per game.

Knicks-Hawks Pick

The Knicks are thin at center with Robinson out, and even though Hartenstein has performed admirably on the defensive end I’m not quite sure I’m willing to take them in a near-pick’em against a big as strong as Capela.

On the other side of the ball, New York’s offense had already been fleeting before it dropped down another couple of levels in the wake of this injury.

Much of New York’s success this season has been tied to Robinson’s consistency down low, and while I believe this team will learn to leave without him, it’s going to take some time. This is a poor matchup on the road and I’m comfortable betting the Hawks up to -4.