The Atlanta Hawks were one of the pleasant surprises of the first round of the NBA Playoffs, making quick work of the New York Knicks. Now, the challenge really begins for the Hawks as they look to overcome two of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference if they want to reach the NBA Finals. With Trae Young leading the charge, the Hawks can’t be counted out at this stage.
Current Playoff Situation
Atlanta advanced past the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, needing just five games to pick up the four victories needed to win the best-of-seven series. Atlanta won the series-opening game in Madison Square Garden, splitting the opening two games on the road before taking the final three games of the series.
The most impressive part of Atlanta’s first-round victory was how well the Hawks handled playing in a hostile environment in New York. With 16,000 loud Knicks fans cheering on their team, the Hawks silenced the Garden crowd with two wins in three games at Madison Square Garden. Young, who led the Hawks with 29.2 points per game in the series, especially relished the hostile crowds as he bid them farewell with a bow late in Game 5.
“Leading up to this game, I know where we are, I know there’s a bunch of shows around this city, and I know what they do when the show is over,” Young said.
Hawks Injury Concerns
Heading into the second round of the playoffs against Philadelphia, the Hawks are largely healthy. They are without Cam Reddish, who they were without for most of this season, as well as Brandon Goodwin. But during the postseason, where rotations are shortened, neither of those players figured to play much of a role anyway. So the key players for the Hawks are all good to go at this time, which should stoke fear in their opponents for the rest of the playoffs.
In the second round, it will be the Philadelphia 76ers who have injury concerns heading into the series between Atlanta and the Sixers. Joel Embiid, a finalist for the MVP award for this season, suffered a meniscus tear in his knee in the first round against the Washington Wizards. Embiid played and scored 39 points in the series opener but Atlanta came away with the victory.
Path to Finals and Odds
The Atlanta Hawks have arguably the toughest remaining path to the 2021 NBA Finals. They face the Philadelphia 76ers, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, in the second round. Should they survive that series, they will face the winner of the second-round series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets for the right to play in the NBA Finals.
Despite looking impressive in the first round of the playoffs, the Hawks are still not seen as a serious threat to win the NBA championship. They are listed by the sportsbook at 25-1 odds to win the title heading into the second round and are seen as the least likely team remaining in the East to reach the Finals. But if Young can continue performing at the level he has been, the Hawks may just have a betting online chance still.