The Atlanta Hawks have caught the attention of many with their strong start to the NBA season. Trae Young and co. are undefeated through their first three games and have been putting up some impressive scoring numbers.
But the young Hawks will undergo their first true test of the campaign as they take on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Brooklyn Nets, who have already shown flashes of being a true title contender this year.
Elsewhere, the Heat and Bucks conclude their playoff rematch back-to-back, while the Blazers take on the Kawhi Leonard-less Clippers in LA.
Here’s SBOTOP’s quick breakdown of all six games on the NBA schedule for Jan. 31.
Atlanta Hawks @ Brooklyn Nets
The Hawks have been one of the most impressive teams over the first week of the season. They are a perfect 3-0 and have scored over 120 points in all three games. Trae Young is having a terrific start to the season, averaging 34 points and 7.3 assists.
However, they have not faced especially tough opposition in the Bulls, Grizzlies, and Pistons, who were without both Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose.
Atlanta will finally get their first big challenge of the season as they face the Brooklyn Nets, who have now lost two games in a row after starting out with blowout wins over the Warriors and Celtics. Although, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were both rested in their most recent loss to the Grizzlies and are expected to return to the line-up.
The Nets lost Spencer Dinwiddie with a knee injury in their previous loss to the Hornets, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has made a strong case to take Dinwiddie’s starting spot. With KD and Kyrie out, the French guard had 21 points and 6 rebounds in 40 minutes in the loss to the Grizzlies.
Betting Tip: Brooklyn Nets Asian Handicap -6.50 @ 1.90
Memphis Grizzlies @ Boston Celtics
The Grizzlies may have beaten the shorthanded Brooklyn Nets in overtime last time out, but they suffered the devastating NBA 2020 news that star point guard Ja Morant will miss the next 3-5 weeks due to a sprained ankle.
With Morant out, backup Tyus Jones will have to step up and run the offence for their next few games, starting with their tough road test in Boston.
The Celtics will be on the second night of a back-to-back as they avenged their earlier loss to the Indiana Pacers last night, 116-111. Jayson Tatum led the way with 27 points and 11 rebounds, while the bench unit — led by rookie Payton Pritchard — added 34 points.
With no Morant, the full-strength Celtics should still have more than enough to pick up the home win over the Grizzlies.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Miami Heat
The Bucks made history in last night’s 144-97 demolition of the Heat in a rematch of their playoff matchup, which Miami won. Milwaukee set a single-game NBA-record with 29 3-pointers at a 57 per cent clip. Khris Middleton led the way with 25 points and four 3-pointers, while Jrue Holiday had 24 points and six 3s of his own.
The Heat were without All-Star Jimmy Butler, who left their Christmas Day game against the Pelicans due to an ankle injury. Tyler Herro led the Heat in Butler’s absence with 23 points and 7 assists.
It’s hard to imagine the Bucks shooting that well from beyond the arc again, but it’s also tough to see reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo finishing with just 9 points. The Heat should be able to make things more competitive, but without Butler, they will struggle to bring down the Bucks.
Charlotte Hornets @ Dallas Mavericks
After back-to-back losses to start the season, the Hornets defied the NBA 2020 betting odds as they got their first win at home against the Nets, who had looked incredible in their first two games. Despite a broken finger, Gordon Hayward has continued his solid play this season as he led the Hornets with 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists.
But Charlotte will have their hands full against the Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, who set an NBA record by building a 50-point lead at half-time in their 124-73 demolition of the Clippers in LA.
Doncic is off to a solid start (27.7 PPG) despite shooting just 2-of-16 on 3-pointers. He’s poised for a breakout game, and the Hornets seem like the perfect opponent for him to rediscover his stroke from distance.
Betting Tip: Dallas Mavericks -7.50 @ 1.85
Los Angeles Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs
The reigning champion Lakers are a mere 2-2 despite playing their first four games at home. Their most recent loss saw them go down to the Blazers, who were eyeing revenge for their first-round playoff loss in the bubble.
LeBron James was terrific with 29 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists on the second night of a back-to-back, but Anthony Davis (13 points in 38 minutes) did not look quite back to his best as he returned after a calf strain.
The champs will finally make their first road trip of the season when they take on San Antonio. The Spurs picked up their first loss of the season last time out against the Pelicans. After a hot start to the season, DeMar DeRozan finally cooled off with just 8 points against New Orleans.
Portland Trail Blazers @ LA Clippers
The Blazers have now won back-to-back games as they brought down the Lakers, 115-107. Damian Lillard, who had been struggling with his shot, finally got going with 31 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Meanwhile, Gary Trent Jr. exploded for 28 points off the bench, going 7-of-11 on 3-pointers.
Portland will like their chances of picking up a third straight win as they take on the Clippers. Despite still missing superstar Kawhi Leonard, LA bounced back from their historic defeat to the Mavs to hand out their own dominant win over the Timberwolves last night. Lou Williams led the Clips with 20 points off the bench, and Paul George added 18.
Leonard remains questionable to return, but the Clippers still have sufficient depth to battle the Blazers even on the second night of a back-to-back.
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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