We have a nine-game NBA slate lined up for tonight, including a national TV doubleheader on ESPN. We’ll be locking in on a seasoned veteran in the second game as one of our favorite NBA Props for Wednesday night’s games.
The Phoenix Suns are hosting the Atlanta Hawks — tipoff is at 10:00 ET. Phoenix is playing much better basketball as of late, and that starts entirely with Chris Paul.
CP3 has taken control of the Suns’ offense, especially during the absence of all-star teammate Devin Booker. With a nice matchup against an Atlanta defensive scheme that should be very forgiving to the 37-year-old, the Hawks could struggle to slow down “the Point God.”
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NBA Props for Wednesday (2/1)
Chris Paul Over 17.5 Points (-115 @ FanDuel)
Chris Paul is one of the greatest passers to ever grace an NBA court. But, we’re not interested in his playmaking tonight. He’s increased his scoring load in the absence of Devin Booker. And, he should see a ton of minutes with backup point guard Cameron Payne also sidelined.
Tonight’s home contest has quite a close point spread, which should bode well for Paul’s minutes. With Phoenix coming in as 1.5-point favorites, we can expect around 35 or 36 minutes as long as this game stays close into the fourth quarter.
Additionally, the Hawks play a ton of drop coverage defense against pick-and-roll actions. This should lead to plenty of easy jumpers for the 18-year NBA vet tonight.
No Devin Booker, No Problem
The absence of Booker is big for playing Chris Paul’s over tonight. Plus, the absence of Cam Payne doesn’t hurt, either. The future hall-of-famer looks for his shot more when Booker sits. And, he’s guaranteed more time on the floor when Payne sits. That sounds pretty good to me.
Since being traded to Phoenix in 2021, Paul sees a +2.7% usage bump when Booker is out of the lineup. And when we look at the 12-time all-star’s splits without Booker and Payne, it’s even more encouraging.
In 14 full games without these other two guards in the lineup since 2021, Paul is averaging 20.4 points per game. That’s nearly three full points above his over/under, and he’s cashed the over in 9 of these 14 games.
The Wake Forest product has thrived as the lone ball-dominant guard in the Suns’ rotation since returning from injury. He has at least 19 points in four of his last five games, averaging 21.6 PPG in 35.5 minutes of action during this stretch. And, in the only game where Paul failed to reach his over, he played only 27 minutes in a 31-point blowout victory over the Hornets. That shouldn’t be the case against a more competitive Hawks squad tonight.
Atlanta has no choice but to build their defensive scheme around starting center Clint Capela. He plays almost 30 minutes a night and he’s one of the best rebounders and interior presences in the NBA.
However, the former Houston Rocket is incapable of switching on to perimeter players and smaller, craftier guards (like Chris Paul). So, how does Atlanta adjust for this?
Drop coverage. This is a somewhat commonly used method of pick-and-roll defense that leaves the defender guarding the screener dropped back to protect the rim. This leads to more open looks in the midrange, which is where CP3 thrives.
The Hawks have played six games since Capela re-joined the starting lineup, and they’ve been torched by opposing players in the midrange since then. They’ve allowed good scoring nights to Jalen Brunson, DeMar DeRozan, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and many more. But, production from these three players is particularly encouraging since they don’t rely on three-point shooting to score, much like Chris Paul.
Phoenix’s point guard has been one of the league’s most dangerous midrange scorers for over a decade and is still as good as ever inside the arc despite losing a step. He attempts 45% of his shots beyond 10 feet from the rim and inside the three-point line. The league average is just 16.2%, for reference. But, this marks the ninth consecutive season he’s converted at least 49% of his field goals in this range, whereas the league average is just under 43%.
The looks should be there for him tonight.
CP3 is in an excellent position to take advantage of Clint Capela and the Hawks tonight. Atlanta has conceded the 8th-most PPG to opposing point guards over their last 30 games, and the Point God himself has been on a tear recently.
With much of the Suns’ backcourt sidelined due to injury, the team should lean on Paul at home in this one.
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