Atlanta Hawks vs. Philadelphia 76ers – NBA, June 16, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| June 16, 2021 5:38 am PDT

The series returns to Philadelphia as the 76ers host the Hawks at the Wells Fargo Center tonight. The tie has swung back and forth over the first four games as the Hawks took the lead. The 76ers then wrestled it back before the Hawks leveled things up (as I predicted) in game four.

It appeared that Philadelphia was cruising to a 3-1 lead in the series as they led by 13-points at halftime. However, a Trae Young-inspired Hawks had other ideas and fought back valiant to steal the win by three points. Perhaps it was the new shoes that inspired him to lead from the front.

Despite producing some awful shooting which saw them go at 36% from the field goal range and 30% from the three-point range. Their key to victory, however, was simple, retain the ball and control the game. They executed this plan tremendously as they turned the ball over only four times on the night.

They must now achieve the near-impossible again and best the 76ers in Philadelphia. In game one, the Hawks’ win was the only defeat the 76ers have suffered at home in 12 matches. The win was also only the first in five games for the Hawks in the city of brotherly love.

Although the head-to-head record over the previous ten encounters between these two is close, their average scores are not, as the 76ers have averaged eight more points per game than the Hawks. If the Hawks want to bring these averages closer together, they will have to start by improving their poor field goal percentage of 42% over those ten games.

Here is my Hawks vs. 76ers betting preview.

Hawks vs. 76ers Odds

Hawks +6.5-110
76ers -6.5-110
Hawks To Win+220
76ers To Win-250
Over 223.5 Points-110
Under 223.5 Points-110

The spread returns to the exact total as game two when the 76ers won by 12 and covered it comfortably. No doubt the return to Philadelphia has prompted this and how they reacted the last time they lost to the Hawks. Backing the totals market has been a nightmare in this series as the previous games have alternated between overs and under each night. If that trend continues, we could see plenty of points on offer tonight. However, the safe bet is to leave that market well and truly alone.

Prompting a Phillie Backlash

Many people I have spoken to, as well as the bookmakers, fully expect a backlash from the 76ers tonight, and after the way, they responded to losing game one, it’s easy to see why. As in game one, they didn’t do a great deal wrong in losing game four. Yes, perhaps they gave the ball away slightly more often than they would have hoped, but performance-wise they played decent basketball.

What was most disappointed was their game management? After building such a commanding lead at halftime, you would have thought they would have seen the game out. So, perhaps it may not be a backlash tonight, and maybe this is the start of the 76ers starting to feel the pressure of being the favorites to claim a spot in the Eastern Conference finals.

However, they can take confidence in the fact that they have won three of their previous four-game five matches. They picked up wins over the Wizards, Nets, and the Heat while losing to the Raptors at this stage of the tournament in 2019.

Here are the latest betting trends for Philadelphia:

Against The Spread

  • They have won four of their previous five matches at home against Atlanta.
  • Philadelphia is 4-0-1 in their last five games played on a Wednesday.

Points Total

  • Eight of their last 11 games have gone over the betting total.

Other Pointers

  • They have won three-quarters of their previous 20 matches.
  • The 76ers have only lost four of their last 18 games against teams based in the Southeast Division.

Despite losing their last game, the 76ers have maintained their excellent field goal percentage, which has seen them make over half of their shots inside the arc during the playoffs. In actual fact, it hasn’t mattered where they have shot from on the court in live-play; they have been superb. I say that because their shooting from the free-throw line has been dreadful and has been the worst of all the teams that have made the playoffs this season.

So perhaps it’s been more about the opportunities they have created rather than their shooting ability itself. This is confirmed by the high number of assists they have made, which stands at an average of 26 per game, the highest in the playoffs. Ben Simmons has been the architect behind many of these assists. However, he did come under scrutiny in game four for not taking enough shots, and many believe this cost the 76ers victory.

Their offensive rebounding has been poor, but that hasn’t cost them given how well they have been shooting. The 76ers have rebounded well at the other end of the court, where it has mattered more, which is the main thing for them. This, combined with them making more steals than anyone else, means they have seen a lot of the ball and controlled most of their games.

Philadelphia is averaging 121-points per game which is the highest in the playoffs to date.

Their defense has been aggressive from the outset as they met fire with fire in round one against the Wizards. They have continued that approach in this series, and this approach has led to a high number of blocks per game.

The 76ers will miss Green tonight, who is out with a calf injury, but Embiid is likely to start. Embiid has been listed as probable throughout the series as he tries to nurse his way back from a knee injury.

Hawks Hanging in There

The Hawks have shown how persistent they are after bouncing back to win game four and keep the series alive. Many would have folded at 2-1 down and 13-points down in game four but not Atlanta. They had something the 76ers lacked, and that is game management.

It seemed to dawn on them at halftime that it was a next to impossible task to try and match the 76ers blow for blow, and they had to take a different approach. So what do you do against a team that is shooting as well as the 76ers have been? Do you get tighter? Do you sit back more and have a more defensive mindset? No, you simply take the ball away from them, and that’s precisely what they did.

The Hawks will need to take this approach into game five as their recent record on the road of three wins in ten games hardly inspires much confidence. However, they can take confidence in their tremendous form in game five, as they have won five of their last six matches. The only team to beat them was the Wizards back in 2017.

Here are the latest betting trends for Atlanta:

Against The Spread

  • They have only lost three of their previous 11 matches.
  • The Hawks have won two and lost four of their last six games against Philadelphia.

Points Total

  • Nine of their previous 12 matches have gone under the betting total.
  • Only one of their last five games on the road has failed to go under the points total.

Other Pointers

  • Atlanta is 10-3 in their previous 13 matches.
  • They have only won two of their last six games against the 76ers.
  • The Hawks have won nine of their previous 12 matches against teams from the east coast.
  • Atlanta has only lost twice in seven games against teams based in the Atlantic Division.

Unlike the 76ers, the Hawks have shot well from the free-throw line, and therefore the 76rs won’t want to be overly aggressive.

However, they have been similar to Philadelphia in the offensive rebounding department, although the Hawks have been slightly worse. They aren’t making as many baskets as the 76ers, which is a worry. If they can get the big-guy Clint Capela in better positions offensively, surely it will benefit the team better as he certainly has the rebounding game to help recycle the ball in attack.

They also haven’t moved the ball anywhere near as good as Philadelphia has, as the 76ers have run rings around them at times.

Atlanta will also need to continue to force errors and make more steals as they did in game four.

Lastly, they will have to hope that Trae Young is fit, as he confessed to having shoulder pain during game four and even heading into the match. However, they will miss Goodwin, Hunter, and Reddish.

My Pick for Hawks vs. 76ers Game 5

Pick
  • 76ers -6.5
    -110

I take my hat off to the Hawks. They realized things weren’t working in game four; they adapted and changed their game and executed the plan superbly. My worry here is the 76ers will now be ready for this. As I have said throughout this series, the 76ers only play one way, and their standards never rarely drop.

Will they change the way they play tonight, given they know the Hawks will look to slow the game down and frustrate them? I strongly doubt it, but they will be better prepared to deal with the situation, and for that reason, I have to take them to bounce back to winning ways this evening, especially given they are back on home court.

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