Hawks Soar High, Lakers Limp In: Is the Under the Wise Choice in This Star-Studded Clash?

State Farm Arena Atlanta, GA – January 30, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. ET

The Atlanta Hawks, an offensive juggernaut led by the electrifying Trae Young, are set to take on the injury-riddled Los Angeles Lakers in a seemingly high-scoring affair. But wait! Beyond the surface glitz of star power and offensive fireworks, this matchup hides a deeper story. Delving into the numbers, injuries, and team motivations reveals a compelling case for an unexpected outcome: the Under on the total score.

Atlanta Hawks vs. Los Angeles Lakers: A Statistical Dive and Why the Under is the Winning Bet

The Atlanta Hawks, boasting the fourth-highest scoring offense in the league (120.2 PPG), face the Los Angeles Lakers, a defensively challenged team (19th in the NBA, 117.2 PPG allowed), on Tuesday night. This matchup promises fireworks, but deeper analysis suggests a different story, pointing towards the “Under” on the total score of 246.5 as the more enticing bet. Let’s dissect each team and the key factors influencing the game’s trajectory.

Atlanta Hawks: Firing on All Cylinders (But Missing a Spark?)

The Atlanta Hawks are in the midst of a six-game homestand, looking to build momentum after snapping a four-game losing streak with a thrilling 126-125 victory over the Toronto Raptors. Their offense is a well-oiled machine, averaging a league-high 120.2 points per game, led by the dynamic Trae Young, who is averaging 30.0 points and 9.3 assists per game. Young is one of the most exciting young players in the league, and his ability to score and create for his teammates makes the Hawks a dangerous offensive threat.

However, the Hawks’ defense has been a bit of a concern, ranking 22nd in the league in efficiency. They rely heavily on their high-powered offense to win games, and if they are unable to get stops on the other end, they could be in for a long night against the Lakers. Additionally, the status of Dejounte Murray (21.4 PPG) is uncertain due to hamstring tightness, which could further impact their scoring depth.

Los Angeles Lakers: Injury-Riddled Veterans Seeking Redemption

The Los Angeles Lakers are a team in transition. They are without the services of several key players, including Kyle Kuzma and Thomas Bryant, and LeBron James is often managing his minutes due to a left ankle ailment. Anthony Davis, who is battling Achilles tendinitis and a hip/groin injury, is a game-time decision. Despite these challenges, the Lakers still have two of the best players in the world in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. James is averaging 25.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game, while Davis is averaging 23.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. If both players are healthy and engaged, the Lakers are capable of beating any team in the league.

However, the Lakers’ defense has been abysmal this season, ranking 19th in the league in efficiency. They have allowed 117.2 points per game, and they have given up over 130 points in four of their last five games. The Lakers’ struggles on defense are a major concern, and it could be their undoing against the high-powered Hawks offense.

Why the Under is the Smarter Bet

While the matchup initially screams high-scoring affair, deeper analysis reveals a more nuanced picture. Here are three reasons why the Under (246.5) is the smarter bet:

  • Defense Takes Center Stage: While the Hawks boast a potent offense, the Lakers’ defensive struggles might be overstated. They’ve held four of their last six opponents under 120 points, and they have shown flashes of improvement under new coach Darvin Ham.

  • Second Night Slump: Historically, LeBron James often rests on the second night of back-to-backs, further dampening the Lakers’ offensive potential. The Lakers are coming off a tough loss to the Houston Rockets on Monday night, and they may be fatigued in this game.

  • Tight Rotations: Injuries on both sides limit offensive depth, potentially leading to slower pace and fewer scoring opportunities. The Hawks are without Dejounte Murray, and the Lakers are without several key players as well. This could lead to a more physical and defensive game, with fewer points scored.

Pick: Under 246.5 Loss