Nets vs. Hawks Preview: Atlanta's Defense No Match For Durant, Irving

Joe Dellera previews Saturday's NBA game between the Nets and Hawks, including betting odds and a prediction.

Nets vs. Hawks Odds

Nets Odds -3.5
Hawks Odds +3.5
Over/Under 241.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Brooklyn Nets head to Atlanta on Saturday to take on the Hawks in what is shaping up to be a high scoring affair with critical implications for the Play-In Tournament.

Who has the edge in this matchup and can either team stop the other from scoring at will?

Nets Thrive in Transition

The Nets have listed Seth Curry (ankle) and Bruce Brown (illness) as questionable for tonight’s contest. Granted, considering the playoff implications this may be an all-hands-on-deck scenario for the Nets.

The Nets just lost a tough one to the Milwaukee Bucks but that was not for a lack of offense. This team can flat out score, and is averaging 117.7 points per 100 possessions over the last two weeks, per Cleaning the Glass.

The one concern with the Nets is that they are so heavily reliant on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving; it feels as though if one of them were to have a bad game this team could not win.

The thing to watch in this game is that the Nets are incredible in transition, and Atlanta is the second-worst team in the league in regards to their transition defense. The Nets should be able to attack this Atlanta defense with ease as they simply do not have an answer for either Irving or Durant.

Moreover, I expect the Nets to thrive from 3-point range. While the Nets do not take a ton of 3-point attempts, they still hit them at a top 10 percentage in the league.

Atlanta  has the third-worst 3-point percentage allowed, and if Curry cannot play then Patty Mills should see a significant uptick in quality shot attempts in this game.

Hawks an Offensive Juggernaut

The Hawks have listed Trae Young (groin) and Lou Williams (ankle/back) both as probable for this game against the Nets. If Young is a surprise scratch that would dramatically swing the line in Brooklyn’s favor. Keep an eye on his status leading up to tip even though he’s expected to play.

The Hawks have been a powerhouse offensively this entire season and they have the league’s second-best Adjusted Offensive Rating (115.9). This is led by Young but also by their elite efficiency by limiting turnovers and the best halfcourt offense in the NBA, scoring 101.2 points per 100 plays, per Cleaning the Glass.

In a game that has playoff implications, it’s entirely possible to see this game slow a bit and Atlanta is forced to play more in the half-court — not that this would be a bad thing.

The major problem with the Hawks this season has been their defense. They allow the fifth-most points per 100 possessions this season (114.8), but this number spikes when playing the league’s best offensive teams. In particular, the Hawks are 0-2 on the season against the Nets and they have a -9.4 point differential per 100 possessions across those two losses.

Nets-Hawks Pick

While both Brooklyn and Atlanta are set to be in the Play-in Tournament, there are significant seeding implications here. Namely, by securing the 8-seed, you do not need to win two games to make it into the Playoffs. At the moment, the Nets, Hornets and Hawks are all tied in terms of their record, so there will be a shake-up after this game.

This is a spot where the Nets’ offense should thrive, and even though I think both teams can score, I’m a bit concerned about these teams’ pace of play, which is just about league average. Additionally, in the two prior games against the Nets, Atlanta has scored just 104.4 points per 100 possessions. This has been a tough matchup for the Hawks.

The Nets are likely a better team, and they’ve won both of their prior matchups this season, even without Kyrie Irving. I expect them to hang on to the 8-seed in the East and I’ll lay the points to back them on the road.

Pick: Nets -3.5