The Atlanta Hawks (14-18) travel to OKC for a contest against the Thunder (13-19) tonight in what looks to be an exciting matchup of young talent. The game tips off at 8 EST and will be broadcast by Fox Sports Southeast.
For the Thunder
Shai Gilgeous Alexander is coming off of an impressive performance in a win over the Spurs on Wednesday, filling up the box score with 42 points, four assists, and eight rebounds. The 11th overall pick in the 2018 draft has well exceeded expectations so far in his young career and will provide difficulties for Atlanta on both sides of the ball. Al Horford, a familiar face to Hawks fans, is enjoying another fine season in year 14. The big man is averaging 14.6 points per game, 6.9 rebounds, and is shooting 37.9% from three on over five attempts per game. NBA bubble darling Lu Dort is coming off of a solid performance against the Spurs. The second year wing scored 16 points and hit the game winning three at the buzzer to beat San Antonio.
While the team is certainly feeling better after a nice win, the Thunder are struggling. OKC is 3-7 over their last ten, and 5-10 overall at home this season. The Thunder will be without nightly contributors Hamidou Diallo, George Hill, and Al Horford.
For the Hawks
After what can only be described as an excruciating loss against Cleveland, the Hawks bounced back to thrash the Celtics in an impressive 127-112 win. Danilo Gallinari stole the show on Wednesday, setting the franchise record for three pointers made with TEN! This was much needed for Gallo, who has struggled finding his touch at times this season. While it’s, of course, unreasonable to expect that kind of performance again, he’ll definitely look to use that momentum against his former team tonight.
Outside of Gallo’s historic night, Trae Young turned in yet another masterful performance. The third year point guard from Oklahoma continued to stay blistering hot, scoring 33 points on 23 shots and making five threes. Nights like these have become the norm for Young, who is averaging a near double double while posting an elite 60% true shooting percentage. John Collins and Tony Snell also turned in solid games, with Collins adding another double double to his contract year campaign. The Hawks will still be missing Dunn, Hunter, and Bogdanovic. Cam Reddish is questionable.
Both teams are lead by their third year point guards, and to this point in the season are heavily relying on their performances. SGA is average 27/7/6 in wins for his team, and 21/5/4 in losses. For the Hawks, Trae Young is averaging 33 points and shooting 51% from the field in wins. In losses, his averages drop to 22 points and 37% from the field. Of course, there are many more factors at play here for both teams, but the numbers do seem to indicate that they only go as far as their star point guard can take them.
While the teams share similar records, advanced stats seem to indicate the Hawks are the better team, carrying the 13th best net rating in the league. The Thunder, meanwhile, are 27th in net rating, posting the worst offensive rating in the league. The betting markets are currently showing the Hawks as 5.5 point favorites, indicating a strong belief that Atlanta can pull off another needed win to get back into the playoff picture.
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