NBA Odds, Predictions & Picks For Wednesday’s Playoff Games: Hawks vs. Knicks & Grizzlies vs. Jazz (May 26)
Three teams lead their first-round NBA playoff series 2-0. Another two series are tied at 1-1. And the final three Game 2s will play out on Tuesday night.
Below is how our crew of basketball analysts are betting two of those three games, featuring five ways to play Hawks-Knicks, including cases for both sides of the moneyline.
NBA Odds & Picks
Hawks at Knicks
Raheem Palmer: The New York Knicks have given their fans more than anyone could hope for and are in the midst of a dream year for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in seven seasons. Tom Thibodeau has completely turned this Knicks team around — they’re ninth in Net Rating (+2.4) largely due to having the league’s third-best Defensive Rating, allowing just 108.2 points per 100 possessions.
While the Knicks were restoring the feeling of the 90’s Knicks, Trae Young’s playoff debut was more reminiscent of Snoop and the Dogg Pound exerting their dominance over the East Coast by crushing buildings in New York City than a rookie making his first playoff start. The atmosphere in Madison Square Garden reminded us of pre-pandemic times, but after Young’s game-winning floater with 0.9 seconds to go, it was so quiet you could hear a Timb drop.
Grandmaster Flash as well as Snoop and the Dogg Pound told us that everything in New York ain’t always what it seems, and it’s starting to ring true for a Knicks team that has made its living on the defensive end of the floor.
To put it bluntly, the Knicks have absolutely no answer for Young.
Young was a maestro in the pick-and-roll Sunday afternoon, torching the Knicks for 32 points and 10 assists. In the 32 pick-and-rolls that Young ran on Sunday, the Hawks scored 37 points. Young’s ability to get downhill and score as well as make plays makes this offense scary. And with Clint Capela as a lob threat as well as shooters in Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, Lou Williams around Young — in addition to second-leading scorer John Collins — there are no easy answers for how to stop a Hawks offense that’s loaded with firepower.
Young is also adept at getting to the free-throw line — he shot nine free-throws in Sunday’s 109-107 victory — so getting physical isn’t going to work to the Knicks’ advantage.
The Knicks will have their hands full stopping this Hawks offense.
The biggest issue for the Knicks is offense — they simply don’t have the weapons this Hawks team does have. The Knicks are essentially starting every game in the hole by electing to start the offensively-inept Elfrid Payton, who was just 0-of-3 in eight minutes on Sunday.
The Knicks starters were outscored by 35 points on Sunday (76-41), so this team is essentially electing to start off the game in a deficit. While the bench did do its part outscoring the Knicks starters by 41 points and outscoring the Hawks bench by 33, I’m not sure if the stellar bench play is sustainable. How often will Alec Burks score 27 points?
Although we can expect some positive regression from the Knicks starters in Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, who shot 6-of-23 (26.1%) and 6-of-15 (40%), I do think the Knicks have some things to be concerned about. Most notable is the healthy return of De’Andre Hunter for the Hawks, who has proven to be a worthy candidate to defend Randle. If Hunter can continue to provide solid defense on Randle, this Knicks team is in trouble.
The Knicks won the season series between these teams, but the Hawks dominated the April 21 meeting and were well on their way to an easy victory before Young went down. Based on what we saw then and in Game 1 of this series, the Knicks have no answers for this Hawks offense and can’t keep up. The Knicks have had a great regular season, but like most Thibodeau teams, they don’t have an extra gear.
I’ll back the Hawks to win the first quarter (provided Payton starts) as well as the Hawks to cover +2 and win Game 2.
Hawks at Knicks
Kenny Ducey: So much went wrong for the Knicks in Game 1 against the Hawks, yet in the end, it was a huge shock to see them lose from a winning position in the fourth quarter. The fact that this team even got there, with Randle going 6-for-23 from the field and the team shooting 33.3% from 3-point range, leaves plenty of room for optimism as we head into Game 2.
The Knicks ranked third in the NBA in 3-point shooting all season long at 39.2%, and Randle was an All Star. Just playing the percentages here, it doesn’t seem likely this will keep up, especially considering the Hawks ranked 18th in that department all season long. The Knicks seemed unsure what to do on offense in Game 1, with Randle appearing uncomfortable in the post, even when a smaller defender was on him. By the end of the proceedings, however, they seemed a bit more in rhythm.
That same level we saw on offense should continue over into Tuesday. It’s also worth noting that the Knicks were able to grab an incredible 57.3% of available rebounds, a staggering number considering the Hawks were one of the best teams all season long on the glass. There is so much room for improvement here that I see a slim margin being made up and then some.
Hawks at Knicks
Matt Moore: The Knicks were the greatest first-half ATM of all time (OK slight exaggeration) this season.
They were so good in first halves, going 51-20-1 against the spread (!!!). Now they’re in a must-win spot, at home, down 0-1 after Trae Young’s game-winner. Teams that lose the first game at home have won 58-of-81 Game 2 first halves since 2003.
The trend is that teams just jump on their opponent in those scenarios. Even in the Clippers’ loss to the Mavericks on Tuesday, the Clippers led at the half by two (did not cover ATS).
Since the first-half spread is just Knicks -1, you need to stick to that. If this moves up to -1.5, I wouldn’t go for it. You want a spot to bet the spread on a pure win. You can lay the extra juice for the first-half moneyline, but the better value is on a number of -1 on as good of juice as you can find it using our app.
Grizzlies at Jazz
Brandon Anderson: It’s not time to hit the panic button yet for the Utah Jazz, but it’s fair to say they really, really need to win this game tonight. They can’t afford to go down 0-2 at home to the upstart Grizzlies, and that means ramping up the minutes if necessary and making sure the best Jazz players are out there.
Hopefully that means Donovan Mitchell, but it definitely means Rudy Gobert. Gobert was not good enough in Game 1, in part because he got into foul trouble and played only 25 minutes. He still recorded 11 points and 15 rebounds, but had three turnovers and no assists, and the Jazz were minus-12 with Gobert off the floor and lost the game partly because of his absence.
Expect a bounceback game from one of the league’s best players this season, and that should mean big minutes and risking Gobert even if he does get in foul trouble again. And while he’s out there, we just need the big fella to get us one assist.
It shouldn’t be too much to ask — Gobert played 71 games in the regular season and had an assist in 55 of them, hitting this over 77.5% of the time. We are drinking some juice to play here, but at -165, that’s an implied 62.3% probability, so this still comes out in our favor — and that’s before even factoring in the fact that Gobert should play more minutes because of the stakes.
Not all wins are sexy. Sometimes you just need to bank a win and add some money for the next bet. Jonas Valanciunas will be in Gobert’s grill at night long, but I trust the MVP candidate to respond with a big game, and we just need him to drop off a dime once all night to get our over.
Maybe all those Jazz shooters will actually make shots. We need only one. I’ll play the over to -185 if needed.
Are you looking for a safe, reliable, trustworthy sportsbook? Check out our ratings of the best sportsbooks and their current sign-up offers for new customers.