Warriors vs. Hawks: Can Golden State Overcome Absences?

Chris Baker previews Friday's NBA game between the Warriors and Hawks, including betting odds and a prediction.

Warriors vs. Hawks Odds

Warriors Odds +4
Hawks Odds -4
Over/Under 248
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The banged-up Golden State Warriors travel across the country to take on the Hawks on Friday night in Atlanta.

Will the Warriors rally and disprove the narratives about this team on the road, or will the Hawks capitalize on their rest advantage at home? Let’s break down how this one might play out.

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Golden State Warriors

The story for the Warriors tonight will be whether or not they can survive on defense without Draymond Green. Green has the second-best defensive rating swing (-8.9) in the entire NBA as the Warriors have a defensive rating of 110.8 with him on the floor and a rating of 119.7 when he is off the court.

That is a drastic swing and it should be especially profound given that Andrew Wiggins will also be out tonight. The Warriors are bereft of talented wing-defenders with Wiggins, Green and Gary Payton II, so I would expect the Hawks to feast on offense tonight.

The absence of Green and his impact is reflected in the total for this game as this one is currently lined at 247.5. Green’s defensive value is well-documented and respected throughout the league, but his offensive impact is less appreciated. He often gets mocked for his poor shooting around the rim and from the 3-point line, but he is foundational to everything the Warriors want to do on offense.

The Warriors want to play fast and carefree. They want to get into DHOs, floppy actions, and then get into slips off of those off-ball screens. The guy with the ball initiating all of these actions is very often Green and there isn’t many people that do it better than him. Jonathan Kuminga certainly isn’t going to enter the starting five and start bringing the ball up and making plays from the top of the key.

Green helps create shots for the Warriors’ shooters and his absence should result in their offensive efficiency dropping as well. I expect the Warriors to look off without Green on both ends.

Stephen Curry is also currently listed as questionable so if he sits I would expect the Warriors to struggle even more offensively. The Warriors’ offense is +6.9 points better per 100 possessions with Curry on the floor. Monitor the Warriors injury report before placing any bets on them tonight.

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have disappointed over the last few games, but I expect them to look much better here tonight given the situation. For one, the Hawks have a mostly clean injury report as the only guy currently questionable is Jalen Johnson. Secondly, the Hawks have a tremendous rest advantage over the Warriors as their last game was on Monday versus the Timberwolves.

The Hawks also have a travel advantage as they have been in Atlanta for the past week where as the Warriors will have flown out Thursday. The Hawks have every situational edge here, but I also expect them to come out with urgency as they are in a tight-race with the Toronto Raptors for the No. 8 seed.

The Hawks also have an edge on offense as they are the No. 1 most pick-and-roll-heavy offense in the NBA. The Warriors’ defense ranks 15th in points per possession allowed against pick-and-roll, but we should expect them to struggle much more without Green and Wiggins in the lineup.

I expect Trae Young and Dejounte Murray to be able to get to their spots with ease all game long. This is a perfect spot for the Hawks and they need to capitalize if they want to be taken seriously in the East.

Warriors-Hawks Pick

If you couldn’t tell already, I love this spot for the Hawks and I will be backing them at -2.5. This line has moved slightly since I grabbed it but I would be comfortable taking this at -3.5 and -4.

This spot is perfect and there is still a chance Curry sits, so back the Hawks to defend their homecourt tonight.

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