Hornets vs. Hawks: Odds, Hot Takes and Top Storylines for Play-in Game
The Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks are expected to be involved in the highest-scoring game of the NBA play-in tournament.
The winner in each of the four regular-season meetings between the two teams totaled a minimum of 113 points. Both sides went over the century mark in points in three of those four contests.
Trae Young and LaMelo Ball should produce eye-popping stat lines and could be on track for double-doubles if the game tracks to the high over/under of 236.5 points.
Atlanta carries the edge in playoff experience from its run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, which was powered by Young's tremendous scoring output.
Wednesday's winner will head to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers on Friday night with a chance to play the top-seeded Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs on the line.
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.
Spread: Atlanta (-5)
Money Line: Atlanta (-220; bet $220 to win $100); Charlotte (+184; bet $100 to win $184)
Atlanta and Charlotte split their regular-season series.
Three of the games were won by 10 points or more, and Charlotte earned the lone single-digit victory on December 5.
The two teams last met on March 16 in a 10-point win for the Hornets in which Trae Young was held to nine points in 38 minutes.
The 23-year-old still made an offensive impact, as he dished out 15 assists for the Hawks, while DeAndre Hunter, Clint Capela and Kevin Huerter all had over 15 points.
Young is expected to produce a much higher point total on Wednesday and that will be an advantage in Atlanta's favor.
Charlotte gives up the ninth-highest three-point percentage in the NBA, per Basketball Reference. That should allow Huerter, Bogdan Bogdanovic and the other Atlanta shooters to get hot from three-point range.
The Hornets could have a similar strategy in play against an Atlanta defense that has the sixth-worst three-point defense.
The Hawks were hurt by shooting guards throughout the season and that could play to benefit of Terry Rozier and Kelly Oubre Jr. as well as the other three-point aces in the Charlotte offense.
The lack of strong three-point defense could help the over hit, and a fast start is imperative for the high total to cash.
Trae Young Should Take Control
Trae Young took his game to another level last postseason. The Hawks star had eight 30-point performances, and his four highest point totals all came on the road.
The Oklahoma product will not need an angry road crowd to feed his energy on the court on Wednesday, but that is a stat worth noting if the Hawks visit Cleveland on Friday.
At home, Young recorded his three highest assist totals of the postseason. He had eight double-doubles in his series against the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks.
The two-time All-Star recorded 15 assists on two occasions against Charlotte in the regular season, and he also had two 25-plus-point games that featured 12 three-point makes.
A 25-point total feels like the minimum output for Young, who enters the play-in round on a seven-game streak with 25 points or more.
He can thrive in the scoring department to put Atlanta ahead, and he should use his passing ability to open up shots for Kevin Huerter, Bogdan Bogdanovic and others.
Both Sides Will Try to Exploit Mismatches
There are two distinct mismatches in play on Wednesday.
The first is Clint Capela's size and width edge over Mason Plumlee in the paint.
The Hawks big man recorded 14 or 15 rebounds in three of his meetings with the Hornets this season. He also earned a pair of double-doubles.
Capela turned in one of his better performances of the season in the March 16 clash with the Hornets, when he recorded 17 points and 15 rebounds.
The 27-year-old's success against Charlotte could lead to some prop bet success, or a roster spot in daily fantasy basketball contest. That could also aid Trae Young's assist total if the two combine on offensive sets.
Charlotte can exploit its mismatch against Atlanta's shooting defense. The Hornets sank 11 three-point shots in their last clash with the Hawks.
LaMelo Ball drained five three-point shots in that game, and the performance leads you to believe he will go back and forth with Young for most of Wednesday's clash.
Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington all hit multiple three-point shots in that game as well.
Charlotte pounded 17 three-pointers into the basket in its other victory over the Hawks on December 5. Kelly Oubre Jr.'s six three-point makes led that barrage, with Cody Martin, Miles Bridges and Ish Smith combining for nine more shots from beyond the arc.
The Hornets even made 10 three-point shots in their November 20 loss to the Hawks, but they only hit four in the January 23 defeat.
Both teams should be expected to take advantage of their respective mismatches from the opening tip.
Success from Capela down low and a hot set of three-point shooters on the Charlotte roster could aid the over.
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