The Washington Wizards (32-36) look to continue their surge towards the playoffs as they take on the Atlanta Hawks (37-31) on NBATV this Monday night. The Hawks have not played since their loss to the Pacers on Thursday. The Wizards were able to edge out the same Pacers 133-132 in overtime on Saturday, the team’s second straight overtime victory.
Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks
Monday, May 10, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at State Farm Arena
Washington has been red hot the last month, but the Hawks are a 6-point favorite at many of the top sportsbooks for NBA. This is largely due to Washington’s Bradley Beal, who is challenging Steph Curry for the scoring title, likely being out due to a hamstring injury. The onus to carry the team will fall on Russell Westbrook, who can set a new NBA record with 182 triple-doubles in his regular-season career, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson.
The Last Time
While these teams will meet again on Wednesday night, this is only the second meeting of the season between these Eastern Conference foes. Back on January 29, the Hawks won 116-100 in Washington. That was back when the Wizards got off to a putrid 3-12 start. Trae Young exploded for 41 points and the Hawks are 13-0 this season when he scores at least 33 points.
Washington had its worst shooting performance of the season, only converting 36.5% of its field goals. Most painfully, the Wizards shot a season-worst 42.1% from two-point territory. If there was a positive, it was that the Wizards got to the line with ease (38 free throw attempts) in a game with 57 personal fouls.
Oddly enough, Beal (minus-17) had the worst plus-minus of any player in that January 29 meeting. The Wizards will obviously miss their top scorer on Monday, but they will shoot better than they did last time against a suspect Atlanta defense that ranks 22nd in Defensive Rating.
Wizards: Recent Play
The last time Beal missed a game, the Wizards lost by 28 points. That sounds ominous for Monday night, but it was a road game in Phoenix, one of the toughest places to win this season.
Washington is 13-3 in the 16 games since that loss. In that time, the Wizards rank in the top six in both Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating. While Beal has been special during this run with 32.7 points per game, Westbrook has also been a machine in producing video game-like numbers with 22.8 points, 14.2 rebounds, and 13.4 assists per game. Westbrook has 17 triple-doubles in his last 20 games, and twice he finished games one assist shy of adding more to his total.
While the Wizards have been wining close games lately, they have also lost close ones. Their last three losses have all been by fewer than four points, including a pair of 1-point losses to start May. Four of the last five Washington games have been decided by one or two points.
A key to Washington’s improved efficiency has been even less reliance on the three-point shot than usual. Over the first 52 games, the fast-paced Wizards attempted a three on 34.2% of their field goal attempts. In the last 16 games (13-3 record), the Wizards only shoot a three on 25.6% of their attempts, the only team under 30% in the NBA. Almost half of Washington’s points come in the paint, the highest rate in the league.
Hawks: Recent Play
Atlanta is hanging onto the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks are 5-5 in their last 10 games and rank 25th in Defensive Rating during that stretch. The 133 points the Hawks allowed to Indiana last week are the most the team allowed in regulation since the calendar turned to 2021.
While the Indiana loss was bad, it was a day after the Hawks had their high point of the season, a 135-103 win over Phoenix where they shot a scintillating 63.1% from the field. Not surprisingly, the offense cooled down against Indiana, but offense was not the reason the Hawks lost that game. They still shot 51.1%, but it was the first time in 15 games that Atlanta lost this season after shooting at least 51% from the field. The Hawks just could not get stops after Indiana scored at least 36 points in each of the first three quarters.
Young has been playing well with 26.4 points per game and shooting 51.3% from the field over his last five games. However, not enough support has been there as his plus-minus is a net zero during these five games.
The Wizards have been on a hot streak, going 15-5 ATS in the last 20 games. Their last three losses have been by a combined six points. I do not trust Atlanta’s defense to allow the Hawks to win this game by more than six. For my NBA picks this Monday night, I am going to trust the Wizards to get the cover, if not the win, as Westbrook sets the triple-double record.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.