- The Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies get the Boxing Day NBA games underway at 5pm ET
- Ja Morant and Trae Young are coming off huge opening night performances
- Get the latest Hawks vs Grizzlies odds, betting preview and pick below
The Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies matchup at 5pm ET on Boxing Day. Two of the NBA’s star young guards go head-to-head in what should be a festive cracker – Ja Morant’s Grizz are favored by 1.5 points over the Hawks.
Morant and Trae Young shone on opening night. Despite a herculean effort from the 2019 second overall pick, Memphis suffered a loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The Hawks blew out the Chicago Bulls on the back of a massive first half performance from Young.
Hawks vs Grizzlies Odds
|Atlanta Hawks||+1.5 (-110)||+102||Over 237 (-110)|
|Memphis Grizzlies||-1.5 (-110)||-120||Under 237 (-110)|
Odds taken on Dec 26 from FanDuel
Atlanta’s Defense Faces Morant Challenge
The Hawks got off to a winning start against the Chicago Bulls. The offense looked great, but Chicago lacks a player as dynamic as Ja Morant.
Atlanta’s defense is the primary concern this year after ranking 27th on that end last season. Young has, by many metrics, been the worst defender in the NBA. Adding Danilo Gallinari isn’t going to help as a defensive unit, and John Collins remains stuck between the four and five as a defender.
Memphis are not the harshest defensive assignment of the year, particularly without Jaren Jackson Jr. Morant alone is a threat, though. He’s coming off an 18-for-27, 44-point performance against San Antonio.
He relentlessly attacks the rim, forcing help defenders to be sucked towards the paint. An underrated passer, Atlanta’s rotations will be tested when Morant kicks it out to the perimeter.
Clint Capela is doubtful for Saturday’s game. The Hawks went small at times in the season opener, something we could see more of on Boxing Day with Solomon Hill potentially playing some five. Whoever gets minutes at center will be challenged over and over again by Morant’s drives. If there’s no Capela, Atlanta’s interior defense is a real concern – they were below-average at defending the rim last season.
Memphis’ Defense Will be Challenged From Distance
Young teams tend to be poor on the defensive end. The Grizz were okay last season – 15th in defensive rating for the year – but they saw their defense worsen in the second half, and there are worrying signs in terms of shot distribution.
Atlanta is stacked with shooters. They will run plenty of line-ups with five above-average three-point threats. Memphis was in the bottom half of the league in threes given up last season, and teams hit them at a high rate – only three teams had a higher opponent’s field goal percentage on corner treys in 2019-20.
Trae Young in the 1st Half:
27 PTS – 7/9 FGM – 5/6 3PM – 17 Minutes
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 24, 2020
The Hawks shot 35 threes against the Bulls – they will shoot more than that many times this season. Whether it’s Young driving or pick-and-pops with Bogdan Bogdanovic, Collins and Gallinari, Atlanta has so many options to create good looks on the perimeter.
Young Stars Will Provide Boxing Day Fireworks
This was one of the games that stood out on the early season schedule. Morant and Young are box office. These are going to be two fun teams to watch this season, though defensive concerns limit their ceilings.
JA MORANT OFF THE GLASS TO HIMSELF pic.twitter.com/glFQR6nUPk
— Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) December 24, 2020
It’s a high line at 237, but the over is still the way to go with this one. This could easily be a 130 plays 125 kind of game – something we might see a lot of from both teams in 2020-21.
There’s plenty of betting value to be found on this game. Morant and Young to hit their points overs at +260 is a nice bet, but we’ll settle with the total points over.
Pick: Over 237 total points (-110)