NBA Predictions and Best Bets: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Atlanta Hawks and More
When: Wednesday, October 27, 7:30 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: ESPN
Spread: Hawks -6
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Atlanta Hawks Prediction
Without question, the early part of the NBA season is the toughest time of year to figure out for the betting public.
One game serves as 100 percent of the sample size, then 50 percent, then a third, then a quarter, which is about where we are now. In other words, impossible not to overreact simply because there is nothing else to react to.
That’s what happened after the Atlanta Hawks’ second game. After looking like a stealth Finals contender in their game one dismantling of the Dallas Mavericks, the Hawks went into Cleveland and laid an egg, losing to the supposedly terrible 0-2 Cavs and only scoring 95 points in the process.
Since then, we’ve learned a few more things as the sample size has gotten larger. For one, Cleveland might not be as terrible as we thought, as they followed up their first win of the season with a victory in Denver. In addition, their two losses to open the season – a nine-point loss in Memphis and an 11-point defeat at the hands of the very frisky Charlotte Hornets – also look better in light of how those teams have played.
Which brings us back to the Hawks, who followed up their Cavs mess with an 18-point margin against the Pistons in a game they never trailed after the first two minutes and were comfortably ahead throughout.
They now have the 1-3 Pelicans on the docket, with New Orleans coming off their first win of the season – a 107-98 victory in Minnesota over the previously unbeaten Timberwolves. But even that win needs to be put into context, as it was their second straight game playing the Wolves on the road, and we know from the stats on last year’s baseball-style two-game sets rarely resulted in two wins for the same team.
In other words, the Pelicans and their 25th ranked negative 7.8 net rating are probably worth fading, at least until Zion Williamson makes an appearance, and that’s not going to be for a while. So take advantage of any recency bias baked into this number and go with the better team.
Pelicans vs. Hawks Pick
- Hawks -6 (-110)
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers
When: 8:00 p.m ET
Where to Watch: NBA League Pass
Thunder vs. Lakers Odds
Speaking of learning things about whether teams are good or bad, I’m not sure we need much more time to figure out who the Oklahoma City Thunder are and what they are (or are not) capable of.
We are now more than a week into the season, and OKC still has not won a game. Their four losses have come by 21, 33, 12, and most recently to the Warriors at home, eight points. That last effort represents their only cover of the season, and it came in a game that saw Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit 4-of-5 shots from downtown.
That shooting night helped the Thunder as a whole hit 35 percent of their threes on the night, which is by far their highest mark of the season. In the previous three games, they hit 20 percent, 32 percent, and 25 percent from long range, which are numbers far more commensurate with the lack of floor spacing on this team.
The Lakers, meanwhile, have done a decent job of limiting opponents’ from long range this season, holding opponents to 35.2 percent shooting behind the arc and a 3-point field goal frequency of 36.7 percent, which is eighth in the NBA.
LA is coming off its second straight win, an overtime victory without LeBron James over the more than game San Antonio Spurs. Even so, there are still doubts about this team and whether James plays, which is baked into this line.
Don’t take the bait. The Thunder are bad, and while the Lakers may have their flaws, this is the perfect get-well game to move them above .500, whether the King makes an appearance or not. Take advantage of the line being what it is while his status is still in doubt.
Thunder vs. Lakers Pick
- Lakers -9 (-110)