Hawks vs. 76ers Game 2 Odds
|Moneyline||+215 / -265|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday morning and via DraftKings.|
Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks were a thorn in the Philadelphia’s side in Game 1. Tonight, the Hawks hope to steal another game on the 76ers’ home court and take a commanding 2-0 series lead.
In the opener, the Sixers were totally thrown off their game early, turning the ball over and allowing points in bunches. Will the Sixers return to form in Game 2 and get back to playing the quality basketball we’ve seen them play all season (and postseason) long? Or, will Trae Young and the Hawks dispatch the Sixers with a hobbled Joel Embiid?
In Game 1, the Hawks did what they’ve done for months upon months: Score the basketball. Atlanta’s 118.5 offensive rating actually exceeded the team’s stellar performance against a tough Knicks defense in Round 1. To further improve against Philly is surprising to say the least, considering the staunch 76ers defense that Atlanta had to face.
Atlanta’s scoring ability is well-documented. In that respect, the team’s performance in Game 1 is nothing new. However, what was different in Game 1 was how the Hawks scored: Specifically, how often.
Atlanta was 22nd in pace all season long and played some slow, grind-it-out games against the Knicks. Then, against a moderately-paced team in the Sixers, the Hawks posted a pace rating of 107.
That shift in pace stunned Philadelphia and put the team on its heels early. Atlanta forced turnovers at a 17.9% rate, pulled down a respectable 47.1% rebounding share against a strong frontcourt, and posted an elite 62.8% effective field goal percentage (eFG%).
The question here is whether or not the Hawks can keep this up. We witnessed Atlanta achieve a similarly great start to the Knicks series before its offense went cold on the road in Game 2.
Philadelphia arguably had the best defense in the NBA this year and will surely come back with a vengeance on Tuesday night. Perhaps pushing the tempo once again could keep the 76ers out of rhythm.
Joel Embiid wasn’t a guarantee to play in Game 1, and his status is once again up in the air due to a knee injury. We know how fragile the big man is, and that it’s nearly impossible to assume he will or will not play in a game. So, it may be wise to wait until there’s word on Embiid’s status before betting this one, even if it means risking a few points if the books pull the lines down before you can get a bet in.
The thing is … even with “peak” Embiid, the 76ers looked hopeless for most of Game 1. Embiid had 39 points on 12-of-21 shooting with nine rebounds in 38 minutes, yet Philadelphia was still out-classed by Atlanta and was lackadaisical on offense. Though the Sixers recovered for the second half, they came out flat and cost themselves the game with a bad 24 minutes.
Maybe it was just one outlier half of basketball for Philadelphia. It turned the ball over 12 times in the first half and allowed 63.4% shooting in a frantically-paced start to the game. In contrast, the second half was a triumph for the defense, which limited Atlanta’s shooters to 29.2% shooting from distance.
We have months of proof that this Sixers defense is legit. So, can we shrug off a bad half as just a bad half? It’s difficult to do given the Hawks’ offensive efficiency in against yet another elite defense after picking apart the Knicks in Round 1.
That’s what we’re forced to do, though, if we want to believe the Sixers will come through this series.
Hawks vs. 76ers Game 2 Pick
I’ll be honest: The fact that Embiid delivered a dominant performance in Game 1, and yet Atlanta still bested Philadelphia, gives me pause. The Hawks have been lighting the entire league on fire on the offensive end, and it seems like these talented scorers just keep getting better and more confident as the postseason progresses.
Nevertheless in the team’s Round 1 series with New York, we witnessed how cold Atlanta’s offense can get from game to game, or from quarter to quarter. The consistency of the Sixers was almost enough to make up the ridiculous amount of ground they had to cover after a brutal first half.
For me, that dynamic in Game 1 serves as a preview for how the rest of this series will go. The Sixers defense is indeed elite — and it should shine against a team that can get as hot as any squad out there — but Philadelphia will lack the defense and toughness in the frontcourt needed to win four games.
As long as Embiid is on the court, I’m confident taking Philly off the back of a great second half in Game 1. The Sixers have been dominant against the spread at home all year, and they should get back to that on Tuesday.
Pick: Sixers -6 (-110)