Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#577 Atlanta Hawks 225.5 vs.
#578 Oklahoma City Thunder -10
Friday, January 24, 2020 at 8:05pm EST
Chesapeake Enery Arena, Oklahoma City
Written by Sporty Jordy

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#577 Atlanta
#578 Oklahoma City
11-34
26-19
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24-21
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107
109
116
108

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When and where: January 24, 2020, Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK, 8:00 PM ET

The surging Oklahoma City Thunder will kick-start their weekend with a head-to-head tilt with the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Friday. Since dropping back-to-back losses, the Thunder have exploded back into the win column with three straight wins over the Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers. Meanwhile, the Hawks avoided a third straight loss by upsetting the Los Angeles Clippers at home.

Collins takes over the show

With star guard Trae Young sitting out on Wednesday with a thigh injury, John Collins stepped up and led the Hawks to a shocking 102-95 victory over the Clippers. Granted, the Clippers weren’t at full strength with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sitting out. But neither were the Hawks. There is plenty to be excited about in Atlanta after watching Collins continue to take flight in his overall development.

The team could need an encore performance if Young remains out on Friday against the Spurs.

Oklahoma City is rolling right now on offense with the team averaging 117.0 points per game in their last three outings. Shutting that scoring down will be a herculean task for a Hawks team that has the third-worst scoring defense in the league.

Yet, even their defensive struggles pale in comparison to the problems on offense. The team has the league-worst offensive efficiency. Throw in the possibility of Young missing another game, and it could turn into an enormous problem for the Hawks. Jabari Parker is also still out as well with a shoulder injury.

There isn’t much hope to be found against the Thunder’s dominant scoring defense that has made a habit of holding other teams in check.

Thunder turn the lights out on Orlando

Not even the seventh-ranked defensive team in the league could stop the roaring Thunder.

Oklahoma City stormed into Orlando on Wednesday night and shot 60.5 percent from the floor and 47.4 percent from 3-pointer for a 120-114 victory over the Magic. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari—the usual suspects did their part in the offensive explosion. However, it was the astonishing 31-point performance from Dennis Schroeder that really put the team over the top.

“We’ve got three point guards who can make decisions and who are dangerous,” Schroder said after the game, via ESPN.com. “Every time we have that lineup, it opens up a lot, whoever’s got the ball. I was just aggressive, shooting with confidence, and it went in.”

The Thunder hope to keep the red-hot offensive play going when hosting the struggling Hawks on Friday. It’s the same Hawks team that is currently ranked 21st in the league in defensive efficiency with opponents averaging 47.2 percent shooting against them. Oklahoma City is steadily creeping up the offensive rankings with the 12th-ranked offense in the league right now. The return of Gallinari and center Nerlens Noel has re-energized them.

On the defensive end of the floor, they have played better on the road than they have at home. Yet, it could end up being smooth sailing regardless considering how poorly the Hawks have played on offense this season.

Starting center Steven Adams is questionable for the game with an ankle injury.

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The crowd won’t be behind the Hawks on Friday night, and they might have to play again without Young. Atlanta has only won five games on the road this season, and they’ll be facing a Thunder team capable of giving them problems on both ends of the floor. Their middle-of-road defense is holding opponents to a 45.0 average field goal shooting percentage.

That doesn’t bode well for the Hawks’ 43.6 shooting percentage on the road. They also have the worst 3-point shooting in the league, which limits the chances of long-distance shooting burying the Thunder at some point. Even if Young gets the green light to play, there aren’t enough consistent offensive options behind him outside of Collins.

Parker would be someone to mention, if he was lacing up his shoes to play. However, like Young, he’s also sidelined with an injury. So that essentially leaves Collins as the only healthy body reliable enough to go toe-to-toe with a team that just made the Magic’s defense look like a picnic. Give me the Thunder to secure a fourth straight win at the expense of blowing out the Hawks.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder

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The Hawks are running out of offensive options. They could potentially be without two of their top-three scorers with both Young and Parker working their way back from injuries. The Thunder has shown some defensive lapses on their home floor, but they aren’t facing a team capable of exposing any of those weaknesses.

Along with having the league’s worst offensive efficiency, the Hawks are also the league’s most turnover-prone team with an average of 16.9 turnovers per game. They are only averaging 107.7 points per game on the road this season. I’m taking the under betting total here.

Prediction: Under
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Sporty Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.