The Philadelphia 76ers kick off their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the visiting Atlanta Hawks Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center. A game that likely would have seen the Sixers as sizable favorites now has a different landscape with the uncertain status of center Joel Embiid. Instead, Philly is a modest 2.5 point favorite at home and will have to contend with Atlanta’s Trae Young, who has already proven he can handle a raucous road crowd in these Playoffs.
Let’s take a closer look at the Hawks vs. Sixers Game 1 odds and make some picks and predictions for this June 6, 2021 matchup.
Hawks vs. Sixers Pick
The Hawks dispatched the New York Knicks in five games, the same amount it took Philly to eliminate the Washington Wizards. Even with DeAndre Hunter listed as questionable, Atlanta’s lineup is chock full of young energy and features the league’s leading rebounder in Clint Capela, who averaged over 14 boards per game. If Embiid sits again with his meniscus tear, can the 76ers get enough from their other stars and supporting cast to hold off a Hawks team that has won eight of its last nine games entering play Sunday?
The total for this game currently sits around 220, which is 8-11 points lower than anything the Sixers saw in the Wizards series and 6-11 points higher than each of the posted numbers for the Hawks-Knicks series. Will we see another Embiid-less shootout like Game 5 of the Washington series, or will the game be a low-scoring affair like all of the Hawks’ first round games?
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Hawks vs. Sixers Game 1 Odds (June 6, 2021)
Here’s the Game 1 odds for the Hawks and Sixers at DraftKings Sportsbook:
|Hawks||+7 (-108)||+240||O 215.5 (-112)|
|Sixers||-7 (-113)||-295||U 215.5 (-109)|
And here are the current best available odds for the Sixers (may not display on Google AMP pages):
Hawks Bets We Like with an Atlanta Win
Double Result – Philadelphia 76ers to Win First Half AND Atlanta Hawks to Win Second Half (FanDuel Sportsbook +600)
We have discussed Philadelphia’s propensity for fast starts down the stretch of the regular season and into the Playoffs. They will surely want another explosion out of the gates here to set the tone for the series, whether Embiid plays or not. They will have a capacity home crowd at their disposal in a building where they were so dominant all season long, even without fans in the stands.
Philly won the first half in the final four games of their series against Washington, including Game 4 where they lost the game. In fact, throw away the meaningless regular season finale against Orlando and you will find that the Sixers won the first half in 10 of their final 11 games leading up to the Playoffs. That run included a game they eventually lost to the Pacers. It also involved a game against the Spurs where Philly blew a nine point halftime lead to win by just two in overtime and another against the Bulls in which the 76ers led by 17 at the break but saw the lead shrink to just a point in the fourth quarter before finally pulling away at the very end.
In that final stretch of the regular season, the Sixers played the Hawks twice, in a back-to-back set in late April. Philadelphia collected halftime leads of 28 and 19 points in those matchups, en route to eventual 44 and 22 point victories, respectively. They proved emphatically that they could gain early advantages on this Atlanta group.
On the season at the Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia averaged 59.3 points in the first half of games, while allowing just 53.4. Yet, overall on the season, the Sixers scored below the league average in both the third and fourth quarters. In that same breath, it is Atlanta that both scored above league average in the third and fourth quarters and allowed opponents less than that league-wide mark in the final two stanzas of games.
For Hawks, Now Is the Time
Speaking of Atlanta, this is likely their best shot to steal a game here in Philadelphia. Embiid’s odds of playing here are less than in any game moving forward, of course. If he does not and the Sixers still win, they and their raucous fans will have the confidence it needs to take Game 2, as well.
The Hawks cannot risk that, playing the way they have. It may take them a half to work beyond the enemy crowd and the fast-starting Philly team. However, Philly has been known to let leads slip away in the second halves of games and this red hot Hawks team could exploit that.
After all, if Embiid can’t go, Atlanta is facing a Sixers group that is just 11-11 this season without their star in the lineup. A Hawks group that has won eight of its last nine games overall as well as five of it’s last nine against this Philly squad, including one where the Sixers had the lead at halftime, should be able to work back into this game and win it late.
After all, Philadelphia is likely to struggle for stretches offensively without their big man on the court. Trust the Sixers to get off to yet another quick start in the first half, but follow the sharp money for the game with Atlanta.
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Hawks vs. Sixers Game 1 Pick
Bettors should not let the Hawks-Knicks series disillusion them into believing that the Hawks are going to continue to play low-scoring games throughout the postseason. While their pace of play was just 23rd this season, they were the league’s eighth most efficient offense and just its 19th most efficient defense.
The Knicks are going to skew any series toward low final scores, playing slower than any team in basketball. To make the point, the Hawks averaged six less possessions per game in their last three games against New York than they did all season, as well as four fewer shots per game. Double that to include their opponent and those are a lot of missed opportunities for points that we are likely to find again in this series.
A Recipe for Points
Entering this season, Atlanta and Philadelphia had played five of their last six head-to-head meetings over the total. Six of the last nine head-to-head have topped tonight’s total, as well, with those nine games averaging 226.8 total points per game. Four of the last five and six of the last eight meetings between these clubs have also seen at least one of the two teams reach 126 total points, which would require just 94 points from the other to reach our number today. The Hawks scored 94 or more in all but six games this season (92.2%), while Philly did so in every single game this year.
The 76ers have played more under games than over games this season, but trended toward the over at home, as 23 of the team’s 39 home games surpassed the posted number (59.0%). They are at home, which should allow them to dictate the style of play to some extent, so it’s worth noting the Sixers are undefeated on three days of rest or longer.
They have played three of those four games over the total, scoring easily their most points per game of any rest period (120.5). Those four finals averaged 230.3 points per game, which again is far superior to any other rest duration’s average for the Sixers. Going back beyond this season, you will also find that Philadelphia has played six of its last seven games over the total on three days of rest.
Philly has played four straight games over following a win by 11 points or more. They played nine of their 16 games over the number this season following a 125 or more point outing. Atlanta, which allowed just 89 points to the Knicks in the series clincher, played nine of its last 12 games over the total after allowing less than 100 points prior. Both other times this season following a defensive effort where the Hawks gave up less than 90 points, Atlanta saw the next game sail over and top tonight’s number.
Game 1 Prediction
Oddsmakers expect a close game here, which should mean plenty of free throw attempts throughout and clock stoppages late in quarters. And now that Pandora’s Box has been opened by the Wizards regarding intentionally fouling Ben Simmons, we could see a flurry of points in the final minutes to push this over, much like we did in Game 4 of the Sixers-Wizards series.
Our Pick: Atl/Phi Over 220 (DraftKings -112)
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