Atlanta (1-0) at Philadelphia (0-1)
When: Tuesday, June 8th, 2021
Where: Wells Fargo Center,
Time: 7:30 ET | TV: TNT
Opening Odds: Philadelphia -5/222.5
The Philadelphia 76ers have not lost back-to-back home games since the middle of April and when it’s during the regular season, it doesn’t really matter. If they lose Game 2 on Tuesday to the Atlanta Hawks and go down 2-0 in the series, that’s a problem. The Sixers look to rebound from a Game 1 loss to the Hawks and get this series back even heading to Atlanta for Game 3. I predicted the Hawks would win Game 1, but was relying on Philadelphia superstar Joel Embiid to sit on the bench. He not only ended up playing, but had a terrific game, though the Sixers committed 19 turnovers and had no answer for the Atlanta offense in the first half. Trae Young took over Sunday in Atlanta’s 128-124 Game 1 victory when he became the first player in franchise history to post at least 35 points and 10 assists in a playoff game. The Hawks hit 20 shots from 3-point land, led by as many as 26 in the second quarter and held on for the victory. The Hawks were 14-20 when coach Lloyd Pierce was fired and Nate McMillan took over. Including the playoffs, the Hawks are an amazing 32-12 since then. Besides the turnovers, the 76ers also missed 11 free throws and are looking to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2001. The Sixers are 5-point favorites on the NBA odds with a total of 222.5.
Atlanta’s win on Sunday was their fourth-straight overall. Young was awesome in Round 1 versus the Knicks and was again on Sunday with 35 points and 10 assists – although, the Hawks were actually outscored by 11 with Young on the court. He became the second player in history to score at least 30 points in his first four road playoff games. The other? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he was with the Bucks. No Atlanta starter had a positive plus/minus rating in Game 1, but every bench player was at least +8. Kevin Huerter was terrific off the bench with 15 points. Atlanta’s outside shooting was the key in Game 1, where they made 20 threes on 47 attempts. They held Philly to just 10 makes from beyond the arc. The Hawks are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games and the under is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games overall. Bogdan Bogdanovic and John Collins scored 21 points each, while Clint Capela had 11 points and 10 rebounds Sunday. The Hawks won without De’Andre Hunter, who sat out with right knee soreness. Hunter is questionable for Game 2.
Embiid, playing injured for the rest of the postseason, finished with 39 points and nine rebounds in 38 minutes. Down 16 points entering the fourth quarter, the Sixers nearly staged a big comeback, outscoring the Hawks 41-29 in that quarter to lose by only four. Tobias Harris recorded 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Simmons had 17 points, but missed seven free throws in 10 attempts. Expect the Hawks to foul Simmons intentionally in the fourth quarter of this one if the game is close, much like the Wizards did in the first round. Danny Green had just four points in 30 minutes on Sunday and the Philly bench was largely useless with every member having a negative plus/minus rating. Dwight Howard had only eight minutes of action and committed two turnovers, two fouls and was -15. The Sixers have covered three of their past 12 versus teams with a winning record. Seth Curry contributed 21 points in the loss.
I do think the 76ers will come back strong and win this game, but five points is a lot to lay against a Hawks team that is on a 32-12 run since changing coaches. Trae Young is the real-deal and will help keep this one close. There’s also a lot of pressure on Philly in this one.
Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today.
Pick: Hawks +5