Atlanta Hawks vs Los Angeles Lakers 1/7/22: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds, Live Stream

Atlanta Hawks vs Los Angeles Lakers Matchup Preview (1/7/22)

On Friday night, the Atlanta Hawks (17-20) travel to Crypto.com Arena to face the Los Angeles Lakers (20-19). The Hawks have been struck by injuries recently, but their poor record can be attributed to their defense. The Hawks have the second best offensive rating in the NBA at 113.0, but their 112.7 defensive rating is tied-25th. Trae Young will always be limited defensively because of his height and frame, and the Hawks do not have the necessary defenders to compensate. De’Andre Hunter’s wrist injury forced the Hawks to play without their best wing defender. He also contributed on offense by averaging 10.8 PPG and shooting 39.5% from three. The Hawks as a team force the fewest amount of turnovers and allow opponents to shoot 46.6% from the field, good for 24th in the NBA. Clint Capela’s rim protection has been solid this season (1.5 BPG), and he has controlled the glass (13.1 RPG). Unfortunately for the Hawks, they lack an elite guard defender to shut down opposing guards from penetrating the paint and kicking the ball out to the open man. In this matchup, the Hawks may see key players return to action. Their leading scorer Trae Young (back) is a game time decision. Bogdan Bogdanovic, John Collins, Jalen Johnson, and Gorgui Dieng (COVID) are also game time decisions. The Young Collins pick and roll connection has become one of the best in the NBA. Without them, the Hawks would rely on Cam Reddish and Kevin Huerter to lead the scoring effort. 

The Lakers have struggled to fully integrate Russell Westbrook into the offense. Westbrook and LeBron are both ball dominant players that struggle to impact the game off-ball at the same level. If the offense continues to be inefficient and stagnant, do the Lakers stagger their minutes and experiment with Westbrook playing against opposing second units more often? Westbrook’s play with the Thunder shows how effective he can be when he runs the show. Coach Vogel must optimize the Lakers lineup and scheme with LeBron and Westbrook to run the Western Conference gauntlet. Age is starting to catch up with LeBron, so the Lakers must maximize every year he plays for them at this level. Anthony Davis (knee) is out for at least another couple weeks. LeBron (abdomen) is a game time decision, while Kendrick Nunn (knee) is expected to be out for another week. If LeBron is unable to play, Russell Westbrook will be unleashed with total control of the offense. He has the opportunity to turn back the clock to 2017 and produce a 25+ point triple double. 

Atlanta Hawks vs Los Angeles Lakers Betting Odds

The Hawks and Lakers have not played each other this season. Based on the projected lineups, I am tentatively going with the Lakers moneyline. If Young and Collins cannot play, then they will have trouble producing offense. If Lebron does not play, the Lakers will have Westbrook to lead their offense. With no Young, Collins, or LeBron, I would bet up to -4.5 Lakers for the spread. With all three, I would bet -2.5 Lakers. Look for this game to be close throughout until the Lakers pull ahead in the end. I do not trust the Hawks defense, and without Young, I do not trust their shot creation on offense. 

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TV Schedule

Date: 1/7/22
Time: 10:00 PM ET
Arena: Crypto.com Arena – Los Angeles, CA
Channel: ESPN

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Atlanta Hawks Starting Lineup

PG: Trae Young
SG: Bogdan Bogdanovic
SF: Cam Reddish
PF: John Collins
C: Clint Capela

Atlanta Hawks Analysis

The Hawks are struggling to reproduce the magic they had in their Eastern Conference finals run last playoffs. The Hawks need to add defensive specialists to the roster in order to cover up their flaws. The offense has been dynamic and encouraging so far however. Trae Young is 2nd in scoring (28.4 PPG) and 3rd in assists (9.5 APG) while shooting a career high 38.1% from three. John Collins has improved his fundamentals and is a swiss army knife for the Hawks. He averages 17.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.2 BPG, 0.7 SPG on 42.7% from three. Cam Reddish has been a surprise for the Hawks this year. He was a raw prospect coming out of Duke who showed massive upside. Although his base numbers are not too different, his offensive arsenal and command of the game looks polished. The game is slowing down for him, and Reddish has found his shooting stroke (38.2 3PT%). 

The Hawks currently have one of the brightest lineups in the NBA – Young, Reddish, Hunter, Collins, Capela. The lineup contains offensive firepower, wing defense, shot creation, and rim protection. That is also not mentioning the potential of Jalen Johnson, Onyeka Okongwu, and Kevin Huerter on the bench. This matchup is a battle between youth and veterans. Although the Lakers may win the game, the Hawks will win the long term battle. 

Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup

PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Malik Monk
SF: Trevor Ariza
PF: LeBron James
C: Dwight Howard

Los Angeles Lakers Analysis

Lost in the stardom of LeBron, Davis, and Westbrook is the emergence of Malik Monk. In Charlotte, Monk was a solid starter who showed flashes of potential. He has shown why he was a lottery pick recently. In the last 6 games, Monk has averaged 20.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.0 APG. The Lakers are 4-2 in that span, and Monk has been a huge reason for this. When the Lakers finally get healthy, having another scoring threat next to the Lakers Big 3 would completely open up the offense. His shooting (38.4 3PT%) is especially helpful as LeBron and Westbrook are at their most impactful when they drive and kick to shooters. 

For this matchup, Dwight Howard will be a key component to their success. Clint Capela is a lob threat and stout defender. Howard is not very mobile, so guarding the lob threat with athleticism would not be a recipe for success. He needs to utilize his size and strength to push Capela off his spots and to keep him from controlling the glass. Howard looked rejuvenated last game against the Kings and produced 14 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals. The Lakers need another throwback performance from Howard to improve their chances of winning, especially if Collins plays and utilizes his position as the pick and roll roll man. 

Atlanta Hawks vs Los Angeles Lakers Daily Fantasy Picks

In this matchup, look for Cam Reddish and Malik Monk to excel. Reddish will have the green light to shoot often, even if Young and Collins return. The Lakers do not have an elite wing defender, so Reddish will have more space than usual to get his shot off. The Hawks lack an elite guard defender, so Malik Monk will continue his scoring streak. For a player prop, I would bet on Monk scoring 20+ points even if LeBron plays. The faulty perimeter defense will be the main theme in this matchup. 

I am currently a junior at University of Pennsylvania majoring in Psychology. I have spent the last few years working with various UPenn athletics teams and contributing to the UPenn Sports Analytics Group. My primary interests reside in NBA, NFL, and College Football.

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