It was a tale of two halves as the Atlanta Hawks edged the Philadelphia 76ers despite almost blowing a 20-point lead in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. The Hawks lit up the Sixers in the first half but got shut down in the second, though Philly’s late rally fell just short.
The online sportsbook is taking the second half of Game 1 as an indicator of the series as the Sixers are bigger favorites on the NBA betting lines this Tuesday at -245. Atlanta is now +205. The NBA series price got nudged with Philly at -135 and Atlanta at +115. Expect this to move when the Sixers take care of the Hawks in Game 2.
Hawks: Your Move
The Hawks opened Game 1 with a sucker punch to the 76ers, shooting 634/565/1000 from the field and dropping 72 first-half points, 42 in the first quarter. But Atlanta nearly did something it was notorious for in the past: choke the lead away in a complete fourth-quarter meltdown.
Atlanta let Joel Embiid and the Sixers score at will in the fourth: 41 points on 60 percent shooting. The Hawks must have mixed feelings regarding their win as they are still up 1-0 in the series. But all the momentum is on the Sixers’ side.
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) June 6, 2021
Nate McMillan’s crew shot just 40 percent in the second-half, 29.2 percent from three, and was crushed on the boards 27-18. Not to mention that Atlanta’s starters got outscored after the first with Trae Young being a -11 despite his 35 points. Atlanta will need to prioritize its defense and it can’t hope to shoot 56.5 percent from three again.
Sixers: We Need Backup
Despite a sluggish start that ultimately doomed them, the Sixers managed to beat up on Atlanta in the second half as expected. Embiid scored 22 of his 39 points after halftime while all starters were a +10 or better.
Philadelphia’s bigger and more athletic starters will keep chewing up the Hawks. Ben Simmons and forward Tobias Harris can score with impunity while guard Seth Curry can rain down threes. What will secure the Sixers’ chances here and in the next few games is the impact of their secondary players.
Guard’forward Danny Green needs to be better than his four points. The bench all registered a negative plus-minus and got outscored 34-23 by the Hawks’ bench. When guard/forward Matisse Thybulle is the top scorer off the bench, that is an issue. The Sixers’ starters need for the bench to hold their own while they take a breather.
Pick: Big Brotherly Love
The Atlanta Hawks showed in Game 1 the two facets to the team. When they’re rolling, they can be unstoppable. But when they’re not, they can be deplorable. The real Atlanta is somewhere in between but will need consistency if it hopes to complete the series upset.
Young and the starters will need to find ways to create better scoring opportunities while keeping the rest of the Sixers’ main scorers from getting too hot. Embiid will likely keep beasting on them as not even Hawks center Clint Capela can slow him down.
Expect McMillan to make the adjustments as Atlanta plays better defense. But Embiid and the Sixers should put on a more complete performance this time as they even the series.
Pick: Philadelphia 76ers -245
Bonus Pick: From Downtown
Green has consistently been inconsistent come playoff time. The three-time NBA champion was non-existent in Game 1. So bank on him to have a bigger impact in Game 2, namely from downtown where he’ll hit at least three three-pointers as the Sixers pull away with this one.