Opponent: Atlanta Hawks (35-30 overall, 5-5 last 10 games)
Offensive Rating: 113.4 (10th)
Defensive Rating: 112.4 (21st)
Net Rating: +1.1 (13th)
Where: State Farm Arena (Atlanta)
When: 5:00 p.m. (PST)
Broadcast: NBC Sports Northwest/Bally Sports Southeast
Point Spread: Atlanta -2
Moneyline: Atlanta -130, Portland +110
- Atlanta: Bogdan Bogdanovic (probable), De'Andre Hunter (out), Cam Reddish (out), Tony Snell (questionable)
- Portland: Zach Collins (out)
Primer: Lloyd Pierce didn't get a fair shake in Atlanta, but the Hawks' play since his firing makes clear the team made the right decision regardless.
Atlanta is 21-10 since March 1st, the day Nate McMillan took Pierce's chair on the sidelines. That's the third-best record in basketball over that timeframe, an especially impressive standing considering Trae Young has missed seven of those games.
The Hawks' reserve units have been far better under McMillan, buoyed by improved health and a more primary, finite role for Bogdan Bogdanovic when Young is on the bench. Make no mistake about Young's overall impact regardless, though. Atlanta scores a whopping 12 more points per 100 possessions with Young on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass, in the 98th percentile among all players league-wide.
His deep shooting range, filthy handle and knack for drawing fouls get the most attention, but what really makes Young special is his elite-level passing ability – a trait that's been leveraged to new heights since Clint Capela began rounding into form. In Capela and John Collins, Young has a pair of dangerous rollers to work with in ball-screen action. Collins' is a legitimate pick-and-pop threat, too, as well as a viable spot-up option from deep away from the ball.
But the fit issues that prompted Atlanta to kick the tires on trading Collins at the deadline exist in spite of the Hawks' success. Capela, putting together a career season on both sides of the ball, has a +2.1 net rating alongside Collins since McMillan took over, per NBA.com/stats. That number balloons all the way up to +14.7 when he's playing without Collins, accomplished by significant improvement offensively and defensively.
Expect that trend to hold on Monday night against the Blazers. Young puts as much stress on half-court defenses as any player in basketball, and Danilo Gallinari provides perimeter dynamism when the defense scrambles that Collins just can't match. Gallinari will be a tough cover for guards when Portland switches one-through-four, too.
Don't be surprised if Terry Stotts, like he did facing Ja Morant, ensures Enes Kanter doesn't share the floor with Young. He just doesn't have the foot speed to hedge beyond the arc and recover to his man, the type of help defense Portland has been so much better executing during its four-game win streak.
Don't sleep on Kevin Huerter, either, who averaged just shy of 15 points per game in April on solid efficiency. He has the size, skill and playmaking knack needed to exploit the Blazers on kick-outs and second-side action if their defense proves weary.
Bottom Line: Young presents a unique test for Portland, one better avoided with tired legs. A Blazers win on the second night of a tough back-to-back would be surprising, but certainly isn't impossible given the way they've been playing of late.