The NBA season is still quite young – many feel like it doesn’t really start until Christmas Day, anyway – but we already have a pivotal Eastern Conference matchup. The Toronto Raptors (9-14) and Atlanta Hawks (9-13) are looking to stack some wins together and it starts by facing one another on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena.
Both teams come into this game riding losing streaks. One will use the other to get off their losing slide and hopefully begin an upward trajectory in the Eastern Conference. There is a lot of ground to cover here, so let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
Bet on Hawks vs. Raptors
Hawks vs. Raptors odds
|Hawks Moneyline Odds
|Raptors Moneyline Odds
|240.5 points (over -110, under -110)
|Raptors -1.5 (-115)
|Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m. ET
Stream: NBA League Pass
(How to watch the NBA in Canada?)
About the Hawks (9-13 SU, 5-17 ATS, 14-8 o/u)
The Hawks are interesting because they are polar opposites depending on which side of the ball you look. Offensively, it is hard not to love the Hawks. They are third in the NBA in points per game at 122.2. A big part of that is being third in team free throw percentage at 83.8% and the fact that they play at the fourth-fastest pace across the league.
Trae Young leads the way with 26.8 points per game, good for 12th in the league. The Hawks are one of the most entertaining teams to watch this year, hitting the over in 14 of 22 games this season. Offensively, there isn’t much to want to change.
Defence has definitely been a significant reason for their four-game losing streak. They gave up 135 points to the Spurs but narrowly escaped with a win, otherwise, they would be at seven losses in a row. If they want to make the playoffs, they need to turn things around quickly. The competition is too tough in the Eastern Conference to lag behind for long.
That said, the Hawks are still just four games back of the final playoff spot (it’s still very early). They have enough firepower to compete with anyone on any given night. But until the defence shows that it can at least contribute on some level, the Hawks are always going to be a fun team to watch that won’t make a lot of noise.
About the Raptors (9-14 SU, 11-12 ATS, 12-11 o/u)
This is probably not where Raptors brass saw this season going. Granted, it was a time of change, but much of the core from the last two seasons has remained in place. The Raptors are in a weird position. With a little tweaking, it feels like the Raptors could get back into playoff contention again, but they also have a clear path to a good rebuild.
Things have not gone according to plan. The Raptors are cold as ice, having lost four in a row and five of their last six. Finding a singular problem is difficult because there isn’t just one problem. Perhaps the biggest is the offence, which is 22nd in the NBA at 111.9 points per game. In a stacked Eastern Conference, that just isn’t enough to compete with Indiana, Milwaukee, Atlanta, and others.
The defence, which began the season strong, has since tailed off as well. The Raptors are 17th in the NBA in points allowed per game at 113.8. Opponents are shooting 47.9% from the field with the Raptors’ offence connecting just 46.4% of the time, good for 21st in the league.
There are some positives to mention. Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes have been bright spots. Dennis Schroder has been a solid all-around guard. That said, this is a critical juncture for the Raptors. If they can’t right the ship soon, we may be keeping a close eye on them to be sellers when the trade deadline comes around.
Scottie Barnes over 1.5 three-pointers
- The Hawks are quite banged up right now. De’Andre Hunter is the latest to hit the injury list, ruled out of Monday’s game, and is very much in question to suit up against the Raptors. Forward Mouhamed Gueye (stress fracture in his back) may be re-evaluated soon but is still out as well.
- The Hawks have a pair of players out for the immediate future. Guard Kobe Bufkin was lost last month to a thumb fracture and has roughly 4-6 weeks to go before a potential return. Forward Jalen Johnson suffered a left distal radius fracture at the end of November and could be available by the end of this month.
- The Raptors are largely healthy but have a couple of game-time decisions. Otto Porter Jr. was ruled out of Monday’s game in New York with a foot injury while Chris Boucher (left thigh bruise) will likely be evaluated and ruled on just ahead of tip-off.
- The Hawks have been good in terms of the over/under this year. They are ninth in the NBA when it comes to hitting the over, going 14-8 on the season. They have achieved the feat in four of their last five after suffering a three-game streak hitting the under.
- The Raptors, a decidedly average team regarding over/unders, have been hot lately. They have gone over their projected totals in three of four, topping out at 130 points in a 136-130 loss to the Knicks on Monday night.
- Sticking with the Raptors, they have been cold against the spread over their last half-dozen games. They have failed to cover in their last four games and five of the last six. Their longest streak covering the spread came before that, achieving the feat in three straight and five of six.
- The Hawks are one of the worst teams in the league at covering the spread. They have failed to do so in their last seven games (all losses aside from the game against San Antonio) and 11 of their last 12. They have covered just five times this year despite being one of the most offensively prolific teams in the league.
Player prop trends
- Bogdan Bogdanovic has an interesting player combo of 22.5 points + rebounds. After going quiet for a few games at the end of November, he has heated up. Bogdanovic has gone well over the mark in his last three games, going off for 40 points and three rebounds in a loss to the Denver Nuggets.
- Set at 21.5 points (-115), Barnes has averaged roughly a point less this season. Through 22 games, he managed to score above that number eight times but has gone over his prop total in 13 of 23 games. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that he has averaged two three-pointers per game, 0.5 more than his usual prop (1.5).
- One of the best offensive players in the league, Young has averaged 26.8 points per game. His points are set at 28.5 (-110) in this one, interesting given his recent streakiness. He topped the mark in three straight, hitting a season-high 45 points in the win against the Spurs. He had just 19 in the team’s last game, a loss to Denver, but hasn’t stayed down for long this season and should bounce back.
- Siakam has been hot of late. In his last 10 games, he has averaged 22.3 points which is just below his prop for tonight (24.5, -110). In his last five games, he has scored 22 points or more three times and fell just short in both games against the Knicks (20 and 21, respectively).
Wagers to consider
- Barnes has been consistently good at bettering his three-pointers made prop. Set at 1.5, he has topped the mark in four of five and six of eight. Look for him to do it again against a defensively challenged Hawks squad.
- Aside from putting up just 19 against the Nuggets, Young has been hot. He has scored 30 or more points in four of his last six games. Though not as challenged as the Hawks, the Raptors’ defence is not exactly good, giving Young a primetime matchup.
- Both teams have been hot in terms of the over lately. Given the state of both defences, the over (-110) should be an easy bet here.
- The Hawks are awful against the spread, the worst in the league (5-17). Toronto is surprisingly decent at 11-12. Though neither team jumps off the page as being better than the other, go with the proven track record and take the Raptors to cover at home.