Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks try to take both road games to open their series with the Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire)
- After stunning Philadelphia in Game 1, the Atlanta Hawks return as five-point underdogs in Game 2 on Tuesday night (TNT, 7:30pm ET)
- Trae Young is looking to continue his success from the series opener, where he scored 35 points
- Read below for a breakdown on the Game 2 matchup and a pick on the game
The final score didn’t show it, but the Atlanta Hawks really took it to the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of their second round playoff series on Sunday night.
As the two sides prepare to meet again in Philly on Tuesday, sportsbooks are doubling down on their original projections from the series opener. Once again, the 76ers are five-point favorites, but Atlanta led by as much as 26 points in a dominating first half on Sunday, after it finished the first quarter up 42-27.
Hawks vs 76ers Game 2 Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Atlanta Hawks||+5 (-114)||+164||O 223 (-110)|
|Philadelphia 76ers||-5 (-105)||-196||U 223 (-110)|
Odds as of June 7th.
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Embiid’s Status a Top Concern
To be clear, the likelihood that Philadelphia star big man Joel Embiid, misses Game 2 is next to nil. However, his usage is surely going to be a concern for 76ers head coach Doc Rivers after the meniscus tear he suffered in Game 4 of Philly’s first round series against Washington.
Embiid wasn’t needed in Game 5 for his team to close things out against the Wizards, and he returned to action against Atlanta and played 38 minutes. This season, his second-highest average minutes totals came following one day of rest, but how his knee responds after playing so much in Game 1 could make for a different scenario.
The only player of consequence missing for the Hawks is small forward Cam Reddish, who has been out of commission since the end of February with an achilles injury.
Hawks vs 76ers Projected Starting Lineups
|Trae Young||PG||Ben Simmons|
|Bogdan Bogdanovic||SG||Seth Curry|
|Solomon Hill||SF||Danny Green|
|John Collins||PF||Tobias Harris|
|Clint Capela||C||Joel Embiid|
Will Young’s Confidence Help or Hurt?
Hawks point guard Trae Young came out firing in the first half, and was a big reason why Atlanta got out to such a swift lead.
TRAE YOUNG. FEELING IT.
He’s got 25 points at the half.
3Q of Game 1 underway on ABC. pic.twitter.com/68hS95NaJd
— NBA (@NBA) June 6, 2021
Young scored 35 points but faded in the second half, and he finished just 3-for-8 from the floor in the final two quarters. He hit four of his seven three-point attempts in the first half, but was 0-for-4 in the second — some of which could be attributed to questionable shot selection, but he was clearly feeling himself.
Young was most effective when driving into the lane and around the basket. Ben Simmons didn’t prove to be a great defensive matchup for him, and every time Young made a move in the paint, he wasn’t met with much resistance. Atlanta did well creating opportunities in front of the hoop overall, and was successful at creating open looks from three-point range, even as its shooting fell off as the game wore on.
Atlanta’s Defense Making a Difference
Between the two teams, there aren’t too many areas where one has a significant advantage over the other. On recent form, Atlanta does appear to have a couple of trends working in its favor that could be crucial in Game 2.
Y’all bogdanovic feeling like he mj 😂😂😂#nba #NBAPlayoffs #TrueToAtlanta #HereTheyCome #NBATwitter pic.twitter.com/mNphoRlXVH
— FTL (@FromTheLogoPod) June 6, 2021
The Hawks have had a top five-caliber defensive efficiency rating over their last three games. On Sunday, they did a particularly good job of closing out on Philly’s perimeter players, clogging passing lanes and disrupting open looks. Atlanta has allowed the second-fewest points from opponent three-pointers over their last three.
Meanwhile, the 76ers have been playing far under their season average in defending threes, and their opponents have averaged 40.7% from distance since Game 4 against the Wizards. Seth Curry has been the only relatively reliable three-point shooter for Philly recently, and the Hawks aren’t about to let others get going if they can help it.
Riding the Wave
The Hawks really should have won Game 1 by far more than they did. Even as Philadelphia closed the gap on them down the stretch, they were continuing to create open looks from three that just weren’t falling as frequently as they did in the first half.
If the 76ers don’t win Game 2, this series is over! pic.twitter.com/Z034WBWgFW
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) June 7, 2021
Part of the 76ers’ comeback appeared to be due to Atlanta’s haughtiness following the construction of its big lead to open things up. The Hawks were settling for lazy shots and not playing defense with the same sort of intensity as they did at the start. Throughout the season, Philadelphia has done the same when it has been on top, and has been a better defensive side than recent results suggest.
The Sixers should be expected to try and re-assert themselves defensively, but a wager on either side of the total seems dicey after Game 1. The Hawks surprised many after their first round series win against New York and are looking to shock the world again. They may not win Game 2, but they look like they’re going to continue giving Philly all it can handle.
- The Pick: Atlanta +5 (-108)
Nick Krueger has over a decade of experience in sports media, covering a wide range of events including two Olympic Games for Yahoo Sports. Other areas of focus for Nick throughout his career have included college football recruiting, NCAA athletics and Major League Baseball Spring Training.