NEW ORLEANS, LA – APR 09: New Orleans Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez (9) fouls Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during a NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Philadelphia 76ers at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA on Apr 09, 2021. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire)
- The 76ers and Hawks begin their second round NBA Playoffs series on Sunday June 6th
- Joel Embiid is listed as questionable for Philadelphia following a meniscus tear in the first round
- Read below for the latest odds, injury report and betting preview
The top seed Philadelphia 76ers are favored by just 2.5 points over the Atlanta Hawks for Game 1 of their second round series. Joel Embiid’s meniscus tear has made the Sixers upset candidates in this series, particularly if Trae Young can replicate the scintillating form that saw Atlanta topple the New York Knicks in five games.
Philly took five games to see off the Washington Wizards, winning the last of those without Embiid. The spotlight is on Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris in this series. Doc Rivers faces some challenging decisions with his rotation, and the organization as a whole must make some difficult calls when it comes to Embiid’s health.
Hawks vs 76ers Game 1 Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline at FanDuel||Total Points|
|Atlanta Hawks||+3.0 (-112)||+126||Over 220.5 (-110)|
|Philadelphia 76ers||-3.0 (-108)||-148||Under 220.5 (-110)|
Odds as of June 05
FOX Bet Promo Gives Bettors Insane 100-1 Odds on the 76ers to Just Score 76 or More Points in Any Game vs the Hawks
Joel Embiid is listed as day-to-day. The meniscus tear can often require surgery, and playing through it has ruined careers in the past, but it’s unclear how the Sixers are going to approach this. The MVP candidate went through some shooting drills on Friday. Given the recency of the injury, it feels unlikely Embiid will play in Game 1. While Rivers is optimistic about his return at some in the postseason, Philly may opt to hold him back for later in the series.
Having had a season disrupted by many injuries, the Atlanta Hawks have their first-choice starting five available. Danilo Gallinari is coming off the bench as a result. They are, however, still without Cam Reddish (Achilles) and Brandon Goodwin (respiratory condition) with neither likely to play in these playoffs.
Sources: 76ers‘ Joel Embiid (small meniscus tear) is listed questionable for Game 1 of East semifinals vs. Atlanta on Sunday. Embiid will go through treatment and workout to determine final playing status.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 5, 2021
Kevin Huerter and Gallinari are the main contributors from the bench. The pair averaged 23.4 and 24 minutes per game respectively in the first round. Nate McMillan will also give minutes to Lou Williams, Onyeka Okongwu, Tony Snell and Solomon Hill.
76ers vs Hawks Projected Starting Lineups
|Seth Curry||PG||Trae Young|
|Danny Green||SG||Bogdan Bogdanovic|
|Matisse Thybulle||SF||De’Andre Hunter|
|Tobias Harris||PF||John Collins|
|Ben Simmons||C||Clint Capela|
Smallball vs Capela
Doc Rivers utilized Ben Simmons at center in Game 5 of the first round. Simmons is versatile enough on the defensive end for it to work, and it enabled Rivers to stack shooting around the non-shooting playmaker. This is a different task against the Hawks, however, who possess size and paint presence in Clint Capela and, to a lesser extent, John Collins.
Often criticized as a playoff performer, Simmons excelled against Washington. He began to make free throws after Scott Brooks employed Hack-A-Ben. He was aggressive, scoring over 14 per game and dishing out nine assists. With it uncertain whether or not Embiid plays on Sunday, Rivers needs that version of Simmons again.
Triple Double for Ben Simmons 😤😤😤
5/8 FT pic.twitter.com/7PZ31mK4hf
— Did The Sixers Win? (@DidTheSixersWin) June 3, 2021
The defensive alignment of the Sixers will be interesting. As versatile as Simmons is, the size and roll-threat of Capela could be problematic. Philly’s offense is much clunkier when Rivers is pushed into using Dwight Howard and Simmons at the same time.
New York had no answer for Trae Young. His handle, his playmaking, his floaters and shot-making were too much for the Knicks. Young averaged 29.2 points and 9.8 dimes for the series.
“Everything has just fallen into place for Trae over there. I’ve always been a fan of his game.” ✊
D-Rose showing love to Trae.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 3, 2021
While the Knicks were an elite defense throughout the regular season, they did not possess the defensive stoppers to throw at him.
Philly should be a tougher matchup for Young. Danny Green was excellent against Russell Westbrook in the first round, with the former MVP shooting just 33.3% from the field. Matisse Thybulle recorded eight steals and seven blocks in just 84 minutes. Simmons will inevitably take the Young assignment on occasion, too.
Trae Young and Ronald Acuña Jr the most electric duo Atlanta has ever seen.
— Brian Chandler (@BrianC_Chandler) June 3, 2021
Young played the superstar role in the first round. Only Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic had higher usage rates. This heliocentric offense will be trickier against this Sixers defense – it’ll be interesting to see how Rivers matches up with the All-Star point guard.
Figuring It Out
Even more so than usual, Game 1 will be about figuring things out for both teams. The Embiid situation creates uncertainty, and without him, both coaches will have to adapt.
Tyrese Maxey interrupts Matisse Thybulle’s media availability, to say:
“He’s a great defender. He’s really good.”
Matisse to Tyrese:
— Lauren Rosen (@LaurenMRosen) June 3, 2021
The Sixers are still a good team without Embiid. Game 1 will be a test of their smallball approach, however, and there’s heavy reliance on Danny Green and George Hill maintaining their hot shooting from the first round. It would help immeasurably if Seth Curry could reproduce his Game 5 performance, too.
Philly’s defense isn’t as scary without Embiid’s presence. This will also be played at a high pace as Simmons runs in transition. There were over 220.5 points in four of the Sixers’ five games against the Wizards, suggesting the over is a good bet here against a powerful Hawks offense.
Pick: Over 220.5 total points (-110)
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Sam Cox is a freelance writer and sports junkie, who has spent the past several years immersed in the online gaming industry. He has worked with 888sport, Oddschecker, and Colossus Bets to name a few. Based in the UK, Sam also runs Franchise Sports with his brother.