The Atlanta Hawks have a five-game advantage over the Washington Wizards in the Southeast Conference and that lead could stretch on Monday.
Washington enters with two overtime victories over Toronto and Indiana, but the loss of Bradley Beal is huge for the Wizards. Beal scored 50 points in the win, but he left the game late with a hamstring strain.
Atlanta will still need to be wary of Russell Westbrook, who tied Oscar Robertson for the most triple-doubles in NBA history with 181.
However, the online sportsbook has the Hawks as firm favorites to come away with the victory.
Can Washington Win Without Beal?
It will take a big effort for Washington to win without Beal. He amounts for 31.4 points and he’s one of only two scoring options for the Wizards.
Take Beal out of the lineup and the scoring is left to Westbrook. He can put up impressive statistics, but he needs help and we wouldn’t be surprised to see Washington struggle to score over 100 points against Atlanta.
50-PIECE FOR BRADLEY BEAL 😤 pic.twitter.com/MmBoMNQ1zo
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 9, 2021
Beal, who was playing in front of his parents, had a huge game against Indiana. He dropped 50 points but is guaranteed to miss this game.
“I had the honor of having my parents at the game tonight,” Beal told CBS Sports. “They drove up three or four hours so the last thing I’m gonna do is waste their damn time watching me play like a–. My mom wouldn’t let me live that down, so I always have fun and play hard when she’s in town.”
Westbrook has copped criticism throughout his career for not winning a championship. However, Robertson believes people should give it a rest.
“I think it’s ridiculous that some sportswriters criticize him because he has not won a championship,” Robertson said. “Players don’t win championships by themselves. You’ve got to have good management. You need to get with the right group of players.”
Although he has Beal, we don’t think the Wizards are set up for success. However, that won’t stop him from producing a huge effort against Atlanta.
Hawks Made for Playoffs
The Atlanta Hawks remind us of a younger version of last season’s Miami Heat. They have outstanding perimeter shooters and an underrated defense.
The Hawks score 113.3 points per game and allow only 110.7, which is 10 points less than Washington. It’s an important statistic as the playoffs get closer and we think Atlanta could trouble the likes of Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
It’s a team that not only has a dynamic point guard in Trae Young, but a quality paint runner in Clint Capela. The two combine well, and when you add in the lethal Bogdan Bogdanovic, John Collins, Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter, it has the makings of a great team.
There’s no doubting this team will be better next season, but there is no reason why they can’t go deep in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Atlanta doesn’t have one dominating player like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Joel Embiid, but it’s a real team effort.
A recent win over the Phoenix Suns (135-103) showed how impressive this team is and it followed a win over Portland. Of their 37 wins, 21 have come at State Farm Arena, so there is plenty going for them against Washington.
Last Time They Met
Atlanta took the opening meeting 116-100 on the road, so that will give it confidence.
Trae Young had a breakout game with 41 points as he sent the Wizards to a 3-12 record. Westbrook and Beal countered with 26 points apiece.
Only Garrison Matthews had 10 points or more off the bench, which highlights the major problem for Washington. Besides Beal and Westbrook, there is no scoring. Rui Hachimura is still growing and hasn’t found his scoring groove, and the rest of the team are only moderate shooters.
Compared to Atlanta, which has deadly shooters spaced around the floor, it’s a mismatch and we could see a similar result in the second meeting.
Wizards vs Hawks Betting Trends
There is a strong push for the over, which has a record of 15-5-1 in the last 21 meetings in Atlanta.
It’s also 5-0 in the Wizards’ last five overall and 5-0 when the Wizards score 100 points or more in their previous game.
The Hawks are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games after allowing more than 125 points in their previous game. Atlanta allowed 133 points against Indiana in Saturday’s loss.
Washington has covered 38-29-1, which rates slightly better than Atlanta’s 37-30-1. However, the Hawks are considerably better playing at home.
Wizards vs Hawks Game Pick
We can’t look past the Atlanta Hawks, which we are supremely confident about.
Washington has been playing well since the All-Star break, but losing Beal should stifle its defense. He is a massive loss and Westbrook will need to score at least 50 points to give the Wizards any hope of beating Atlanta.
The Hawks are too good defensively to allow that to happen and we believe they are the better offensive team. Any number of players can contribute and Trae Young doesn’t need to score for Atlanta to cruise home.
NBA lines have the Hawks as -8 favorites, and we’re confident they can cover the spread with ease.
Pick: Atlanta Hawks -8