NBA Pick: Phoenix Suns at Atlanta Hawks – Tuesday, January 14

Game Notes

  • Suns (16-23) listed as 3-point favorites Tuesday night over Hawks (8-32)
  • Alex Len, Jabari Parker and Bruno Fernando to miss game due to injuries for Atlanta
  • Ricky Rubio out for Phoenix for the birth of his child
Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Suns -3 (-110) -160 Over 229 (-110)
Hawks +3 (-110) +135 Under 229 (-110)

We have 6 games on the NBA schedule on Tuesday night. Needless to say, the game between the Suns and the Hawks in Atlanta isn’t a marquee matchup. Regardless, it has the potential to be a fun game between a couple of fast-paced teams. Phoenix is listed as a 3-point favorite here in a game with a hefty 229 over/under at BetOnline.

The Hawks rank third in the league in pace so far this season, while the Suns are 10th.The Hawks have been miserable, and they’re currently dealing with injuries. Trae Young is expected to return after missing the last game, but the team will be without Jabari Parker, Alex Len and Bruno Fernando tonight. The Suns, meanwhile, will be without starting point guard Ricky Rubio, who will reportedly miss this game for the birth of his child. Second-year guard Elie Okobo has already been announced as the starter in Rubio’s place. 

This will be the second and final meeting of the season between these teams. The Suns took care of the Hawks by the score of 128-112 in their last meeting back in mid-November in Phoenix. Trae Young finished with 21 points and 13 assists for Atlanta, while Kelly Oubre, Devin Booker and Dario Saric all contributed more than 20 points in the win for Phoenix.

Young’s One-Man Show

The Hawks enjoyed a strong finish to the 2018-19 campaign, which led to many wondering whether the team would be able to take the next step this season. Atlanta was a trendy pick to qualify for the playoffs out of the Eastern Conference, but things obviously haven’t gone according to plan.The Hawks got off to a shaky start to begin with, even before star big man John Collins was suspended 25 games by the league after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Collins’ absence was obviously massive, as it’s hard for a team like Atlanta to replace the 17 points and 10 rebounds he posts on a nightly basis. Atlanta has lost 4 times as many games as they have won so far this year, which obviously isn’t ideal.

While things are looking dire in the ATL, one of the few bright spots has been the incredible individual play of Young. While he still has a long way to go on the defensive end of the floor, Young has a legitimate All-Star case thanks to his offensive exploits. The former Oklahoma star is averaging 28.9 points, 8.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game while connecting on nearly 37 percent of his looks from 3-point range. These are massive improvements over his rookie numbers. Last year he posted averages of 19.1 points, 8.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds while shooting under 33 percent from downtown.

As great as he has been, it unfortunately hasn’t led to any team success thus far. Atlanta has gotten shaky minutes out of rookies De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, while second-year guard Kevin Huerter has dealt with a few injuries. Jabari Parker and Alex Len haven’t been consistent sources of production, either. Guys like Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe, who were acquired over the offseason to bring some veteran depth, have already been demoted to the fringes of the rotation due to mediocre play. 

Suns’ Weird Rotations

The Suns were dealt a blow themselves when their own franchise big man was suspended for PEDs early in the season. Deandre Ayton got a 25-game ban of his own as a result of testing positive for PEDs, and he has played just 9 games all year as a result. The former No. 1 overall pick has been solid (15.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks), but the limited playing time has hurt his development. 

Head coach Monty Williams has also been tinkering with the rotations of late. Ayton has started 5 games all year, but he has come off the bench for each of the last 2. Ayton played just 26 minutes in the last game, while Aron Baynes started and played 22. Baynes is a fine player, but a young team like the Suns doesn’t really need to see what a 33-year-old veteran can give them. Ayton is one of the keys to the franchise’s long-term success. You’d think they would want to be giving him more of the opportunities.

Rubio’s absence for this game means the team will rely more heavily on Devin Booker offensively. Booker has a 31.9 percent usage rate with Rubio off the floor so far this season, which is a 3 percent bump over his season average. I would also expect a rise in playmaking opportunities for Kelly Oubre, while Elie Okobo will have no choice but to man the lion’s share of the point guard minutes in Rubio’s place. 

The Pick

If the Hawks manage to pull the upset tonight, it will be because of Young. He’s really the only player capable of lifting this team at this point, and without Rubio the Suns are down arguably their best wing defender. Young having a monstrous individual game here wouldn’t be a surprise, but I’m more concerned about the other end of the floor. The Hawks are just 26th in defensive efficiency, allowing 110.1 points per 100 possessions. While the Suns aren’t a great team themselves, they do rank a solid 12th in offensive rating.

Even without Rubio, I see little reason to think Phoenix will have issues putting the ball in the basket tonight against what has been a porous Hawks defense. As a result, I think the spread is a little tighter than it should be for this game. I would be all over betting the Suns’ side of the spread here. Phoenix should be able to take care of business against an undermanned and underwhelming Atlanta team, even on the road. Bet the Suns to cover the spread on Tuesday night. 

The Pick: Suns -3 (-110)

Taylor Smith / Author

Taylor is a sports writer based in Southern California. While he primarily specializes in basketball, baseball and football, he will also dabble in things like soccer and politics from time to time. He has lived in just about every corner of the United States at one point or another, and he has been covering sports and sports betting for the better part of a decade. Taylor currently lives in Long Beach with his fiancé and their two cats.