Year Two of the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant-James Harden saga has been a tepid experience. The Nets (17-8) have “quietly” ascended to the top of the Eastern Conference. On Friday, they’ll look to solidify their standing by taking out the host Atlanta Hawks. The NBA odds have this as an evenly matched affair, even if Brooklyn has won eight of its last 10 against Atlanta (13-12).
While the Hawks have struggled, they have won seven of their last 10 and are starting to get things going on defense. Brooklyn will pit its supposedly unstoppable offense against Atlanta’s resurgent defense
Brooklyn Nets at Atlanta Hawks (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
- Point Spread: Brooklyn +1½
- Total: Over/Under 226½
The Italian term “sprezzatura” means the ability to make the difficult look easy. This is Durant’s game and partly also why his angst dwarfs his talents. The former MVP could win another this season as he is carrying the Nets on both ends of the court.
Watching “KD” play, we won’t see highlight-reel dunks or fancy passes. We won’t see him contort his body like a pretzel to make an “And one!” and he won’t be breaking ankles like Harden would. Instead, he’s leading the NBA in scoring (28.4) and is shooting 57.3 percent from an effective field goal rate.
For the 15th time in his legendary career and for the first time as a Brooklyn Net…
Kevin Durant is your PLAYER OF THE MONTH 🏆 pic.twitter.com/b8A5wk4WbP
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) December 2, 2021
The Nets are eight points better with KD on the court. Heck, he took time off against Houston and the Nets lost. But as long as he’s with Brooklyn, which becomes a subpar team without him, the Nets are usually worth betting online.
The Hawks have not been able to recapture their strong finish to last season. But, despite being just one win above .500, signs point to Atlanta starting to find its groove. Atlanta has the third-highest rating using Basketball Reference’s simple rating system (SRS), is ninth in net rating, and has an expected win-loss record of 15-10.
At home, the Hawks are even better even if they have lost their last three. They have the seventh-best net rating and own double-digit victories over Dallas, Milwaukee, and Charlotte. Big man Clint Capela has been a big reason why.
Arguably the team’s most important player, Capela is averaging a +11.5 net rating when playing at home versus -3.8 when on the road. When Capela is back to his previous season’s form, Atlanta is a top-three team in the East and can be a lucrative sports betting option.
We like the direction Atlanta is going, but it will be hard-pressed to beat the Nets. Brooklyn is 9-3 on the road, including a blowout win against Boston or the one against Dallas earlier in the week.
Capela put up a double-double and was +10 in the Hawks’ loss against Brooklyn earlier this season. He can have another solid game here while Durant will once again be unstoppable. He has put up an average of 31.2 points in his last four games against Atlanta, in whih Brooklyn went 3-1.
Pick: Brooklyn Nets +1½
As with the start of this NBA betting preview, we’re touting more Durant bets here. He leads the NBA in scoring but is behind Steph Curry in the scoring odds at +200. Curry may be the sexier player to back thanks to his three-point shooting outbursts, but Durant has been more efficient and steady.