Hawks vs Suns Picks and Predictions: Atlanta Can't Slow Down Ayton

Deandre Ayton has been crushing defenses since his return from an illness and Atlanta's woeful defense won't change that. Phoenix's big man takes focus in our Hawks vs. Suns picks tonight.

Last Updated: Feb 1, 2023 2:27 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns NBA
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The Phoenix Suns will look to extend their winning streak to three games when they host the Atlanta Hawks at the Footprint Center on Wednesday night.

Phoenix (27-25) has now won six of its last seven games to pull itself back into playoff position in the Western Conference. Center Deandre Ayton has been a big part of the last two wins and will look to once again feast on defensively challenged Atlanta (25-26) tonight.

Ayton and the Suns come into tonight’s game as slight favorites at home against a middling Atlanta team that has lost two straight. We’ll break down how this one might play out in our NBA picks and predictions for Hawks vs. Suns on February 1.

Hawks vs Suns best odds

Hawks vs Suns picks and predictions

Now in his fifth season, Deandre Ayton is once again averaging a double-double a night (17.8 ppg, 10.1 rebounds). He provides a great complement to Devin Booker in the Suns' offense, while also utilizing his mobility and length to anchor a strong Phoenix defense. Ayton has been able to take on an even bigger role in the offense in the absence of Booker, who has been sidelined with a groin injury.

Ayton’s best ability on the offensive end is his ability to take over games in which opposing teams just don’t have post defenders that can deal with his size and athleticism. While Suns fans are often frustrated that he doesn’t do more, Ayton has shown that he can put up big numbers — even if his inconsistency can be frustrating.

Ayton recently missed three games due to illness but has come back as strong as ever after that time off. After scoring 19 in his return against the Mavericks last Thursday, he put up 23 points against the Spurs and 22 against the Raptors.

That takes us to tonight’s game, where he’ll face off against an Atlanta team that doesn’t impress on the defensive end. The Hawks are giving up 116.8 points per game, ranking them 23rd defensively in the NBA. They’re particularly vulnerable down low, giving up 53.3 points per game in the paint — fifth worst in the league.

Clint Capela will get the bulk of the defensive work against Ayton. While Capela was once an elite defender, his numbers haven’t lived up to that reputation this year. After finishing 17th in defensive rating last season, NBA.com now lists Capela at 351st in that category. Capela is still averaging 1.3 blocks per game, but he’s not the kind of force down low that should cause much trouble for Ayton.

With Ayton fresh and healthy, and with the Suns playing a team that gives up plenty of points, I’m looking to back the Over on the Phoenix center’s points prop. Most sportsbooks have Ayton’s points total at 19.5. 

That’s a reasonable number for his season as a whole but is low considering tonight’s matchup and his recent run of form. There are solid prices out there that make the Over on Ayton a smart play tonight.

My best bet: Deandre Ayton Over 19.5 points (-115)

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Hawks vs Suns spread analysis

Phoenix opened tonight’s game as a 1-point favorite. There’s been a little movement toward the home team, but the most common line is still just Suns -1.5. 

That’s a bit perplexing to me, considering Phoenix is at home and has been the better team this year. The Suns have a positive point differential of 1.4 points per game, while the Hawks are down at -0.6. Phoenix has been playing well over the past couple of weeks, winning six of seven games. Atlanta has lost four of its last five.

There aren’t any particular stylistic features that make this game a good one for the Hawks, either. I’ve already broken down how Ayton should have his way inside. Trae Young will get his points, of course, and I don’t expect the Suns to run away with this game.

Setting the line at 1.5 points is way too close to a pick’em spread considering the Suns are the better, hotter, and home team tonight. I’m definitely putting a bet down on Phoenix -1.5 and would be comfortable making this wager even if the line moves another point in its favor. 

Hawks vs Suns Over/Under analysis

The total on tonight’s game has been consistent, opening at 231.5 and staying at that number at most sites throughout the day. 

That number suggests that oddsmakers expect Atlanta to dictate the pace of play tonight. The Hawks are playing to an average total of 233 points, while the Suns are hovering around 223.5. Phoenix has only played one game that went over 230 points over its past seven, and that was in an overtime win over the Spurs.

On the other hand, Atlanta has been playing to even bigger totals than normal lately. The Hawks have hit the Over in seven of their last eight games, going over tonight’s total in six of those contests. In four of those games, the Hawks have obliterated the total, going Over by at least 20 points in regulation. There’s a definite trend here, with only the slowest teams being able to keep the score down against Atlanta.

The Hawks probably won’t be able to push the Suns into a true shootout tonight. That said, Phoenix is going to try to take advantage of the weak Atlanta defense, particularly by feeding Ayton inside. I think the Over is the smart play given how the Hawks have played in recent weeks, but this feels like the least confident bet of the night.

Hawks vs Suns betting trend to know

The Suns are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Hawks vs. Suns.

Hawks vs Suns game info

Location: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
Date: Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Tip-off: 10:00 p.m. ET

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