Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets (14-9) encounter the Atlanta Hawks (9-12) this Monday (12/11/23). Get Nuggets vs. Hawks moneyline and spread odds, as well as predictions, starting lineups, injuries, and key matchups below.
Denver Nuggets vs. Atlanta Hawks Prediction
It’s an oldie but a goodie. Denver is outscoring opponents by 17.2 points per 100 possessions in the first quarter, which ranks second across the NBA behind only Boston. Meanwhile, Atlanta is being outscored by 8.1 points per 100 possessions; this places them 23rd in first quarter net rating.
The Hawks are allowing the sixth most field goal attempts within eight feet of the basket and the seventh largest field goal percentage on those shots. They rank dead last defending finishes at the rim based on average opponent shot quality (via ShotQuality). In other words, Nikola Jokic is set to dominate Clint Capela inside the paint, especially on the boards. Atlanta is 23rd in opponent offensive rebound rate and surrendering the second largest put-back frequency.
Opponents average the second most corner attempts and the tenth most open plus wide open three-point attempts per 100 possessions against Atlanta too, which doesn’t bode well for them. Jokic is the ultimate interior passing hub who finds open shooters with ease. Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Michael Porter Jr are all above a 39 3PT% on decent volume, so Denver should rain down threes. Factor in Aaron Gordon terrorizing them from the dunker’s spot, and the Nuggets’ starting lineup likely thrashes a Hawks defense that ranks 26th in Defensive Rating.
On the other end, Atlanta features a pick-and-roll heavy offense that generates solid looks from deep. However, Denver is 13th defending pick-and-roll ball screens per ShotQuality and surrendering the third fewest open plus wide open three-point attempts per 100 possessions. The Nuggets’ elite rebounding will also quench a Hawks team that racks up offensive rebounds. Trae Young and company can definitely exploit Denver in transition, as they are dead last in this department. The Hawks will also find success on backdoor cuts, but it won’t be enough for them to match Denver’s high-powered offense. Backing the reigning champs is the best bet here.
Denver Nuggets vs. Atlanta Hawks Prediction: Nuggets -2.5 & 1st Quarter Nuggets -0.5
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Denver Nuggets vs. Atlanta Hawks Best Odds
The Nuggets are slight 2.5 point favorites. Atlanta needs to win this game about 45.1 percent of the time for their +122 moneyline to be profitable in the long run. It’s worth noting that Denver (36.4%) and Atlanta (23.8%) are the two worst teams against the spread this season.
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
Atlanta Hawks Starting Lineup
Denver Nuggets vs. Atlanta Hawks Injuries
Jamal Murray is dealing with an ankle sprain but holds a probable tag in this matchup. On the other end, Atlanta will be without breakout forward Jalen Johnson (14.1 PPG), while De’Andre Hunter (14.8 PPG) is questionable.
Denver Nuggets vs. Atlanta Hawks Key Matchups
Trae Young’s Efficiency
Few All-Star guards are more volatile than Trae Young in terms of offensive efficiency. Through his first twelve games of the season, Young averaged 23.4 points on dreadful 35/28/89 shooting splits. However, Young has produced 32.5 points per game on excellent 47/41/81 shooting splits over his last eight games. The transition opportunities will be abundant, and he likely sees relatively clean off-the-dribble attempts from deep here. If Young continues his red-hot efficiency, then Atlanta’s offense has a far better chance of keeping pace with Denver. Should he revert to his previous slump though, then it will probably be a blowout.