The top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers can even the series with the Atlanta Hawks on TNT this Tuesday evening after Atlanta’s stunning 128-124 victory in Game 1. The 76ers have only lost consecutive games where Joel Embiid played at least 25 minutes twice all season, but Trae Young has the Hawks on a roll right now.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Tuesday, June 8, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at Wells Fargo Center
The 76ers are a 5-point favorite at many top sportsbooks. Philadelphia’s largest margin of victory this season was a 44-point win against the Hawks on April 28, a game that Young missed. So far this postseason, Atlanta’s only loss was Game 2 on the road against the Knicks. Will history repeat itself or can the Hawks pull off another upset to take a 2-0 lead?
Game 1 Shocker
With the return of Joel Embiid to the starting lineup, the 76ers were a 4.5-point favorite in Game 1. The Atlanta Hawks, who ranked 12th in the regular season in 3P% (37.3%), put on an incredible shooting display early, hitting 13-of-23 (56.5%) threes in the first half on their way to a 20-point lead. Trae Young scored 25 points in the first half before being held to 10 the rest of the way.
From there, the Hawks had to survive the 76ers’ rally attempt as Philadelphia outscored Atlanta 70-54 after halftime. That hot three-point shooting was already fizzling as the Hawks shot 7-of-24 (29.2%) from three in the second half.
The Hawks are 16-2 this season when they hit at least 15 threes, but it is something they have only been able to do in consecutive games four times. However, they have hit 15 threes in three of the last four playoff games as Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic, who had a playoff-high 21 points on Sunday, have been dangerous from three-point territory. Bogdanovic’s late three helped hold off an epic collapse for Atlanta.
Starters vs. Bench: 76ers Should Feel Good?
Statistically, this was one of the most interesting games of the season. You could argue the game was decided by the benches in a six-minute span (a 19-5 Atlanta run) in the first and second quarters. Young got hot and scored a quick eight points to give the Hawks a 34-22 lead. Then the reserves came in for both teams and Atlanta more than doubled its lead to 53-27 before the starters returned. From that point, Philadelphia outscored Atlanta 97-75 the rest of the way.
For the game, every Atlanta starter but Bogdanovic (zero) was a minus in plus-minus.
Every Philadelphia starter was a plus-4 or better. Even Young was a minus-11 for Atlanta as he had three turnovers and only four points in the fourth quarter. However, the 76ers had four reserves who were minus-12 or worse.
Embiid was great in his return with 39 points as he dominated at the free throw line, hitting 14-of-15 attempts. It was the first time this season he shot better than 50% from the field (12-of-21) against Atlanta, who held him under 48% and 25 points in all three regular season meetings.
The 76ers were plus-13 with Embiid in Game 1. They were 25-0 this season when Embiid finished at least plus-10. The 76ers are now 31-2 this season when scoring at least 118 points. This team shot 3.7 percentage points better from the field than Atlanta, but still lost. The Hawks are now 1-22 this season after being outshot by more than 3.5 percentage points.
Basically, you had a game where Atlanta shot out of its head from three in the first half, the bench screwed the pooch for the 76ers in a six-minute span, and Philadelphia missed 11 free throws (seven by Ben Simmons alone) compared to one for Atlanta.
This is why I would feel very good about backing the 76ers for the rest of this series. Granted, Atlanta is still likely to have better three-point shooting in the series, and Simmons is bad at the charity stripe. Those things are unlikely to change. Philadelphia is not really able to play full-court press the whole game. They had enough success forcing Atlanta's turnovers to make this one interesting.
But the 76ers are the better team as long as Embiid is healthy. This will be a different series from the New York one where Julius Randle just could never find his shot for the Knicks. Embiid is a legitimate superstar, and he is having a dominant postseason with 27.0 points per game and shooting 61.6% from the field.
The NBA’s No. 1 seed has actually lost five of the last six opening games of the conference semifinals. The No. 1 seed is 56-13 SU (.812) in Game 2 of the conference semifinals since 1984. Atlanta is hot right now with a 7-1 ATS record in its last eight games. However, the 76ers are 14-9-1 ATS after a loss, the third-best spread record this season. I am going to trust Embiid and the 76ers to get the job done and even this series for my NBA picks tonight.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.