- 76ers face must-win in Game 6 of series with the Hawks Friday night
- Hawks overcame 26-point deficit to stun the East’s top seed in Game 5
- Read below for a breakdown on the Game 6 matchup and a pick on the game
The Philadelphia 76ers have failed spectacularly in their last two games against the Atlanta Hawks, leaving no margin for error if they want to get to the East Final.
The Hawks rallied from down 26 in Game 5, including an 18-point hole entering the fourth quarter, to steal a 109-106 win and take a 3-2 series lead. The venue shifts back to Atlanta, where the home team can oust the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Still, oddsmakers see hope in the squad that can’t land the plane late, still believing they can put together a complete effort in Game 6. Philly is a 2.5-point road favorite Friday night.
Hawks vs 76ers Game 6 Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Philadelphia 76ers||-2.5 (-112)||-144||O 221.5 (-110)|
|Atlanta Hawks||+2.5 (-108)||+122||U 221.5 (-112)|
Odds as of June 17th. Tip-off is Friday at 7:30pm ET
The superstars dot the injury report ahead of Game 6. Trae Young has played the last two games with a heavily bandaged right shoulder, but he is listed as probable and will no doubt be in the lineup.
Ditto Joel Embiid, though the Sixers’ big man is listed as questionable with a knee injury. It is assumed it’s his right knee, which already has a torn meniscus, but he went down hard in Game 5, clutching his left knee. It seems unlikely, however, that Embiid is out of the lineup in Philly’s biggest game of the season.
76ers v Hawks Projected Starting Lineups
|Ben Simmons||PG||Trae Young|
|Seth Curry||SG||Bogdan Bogdanovic|
|Furkman Korkmaz||SF||Kevin Huerter|
|Tobias Harris||PF||John Collins|
|Joel Embiid||C||Clint Capela|
Cold as Ice Trae
The main reason the Hawks are in a position to close this series out is Young, who is easily the premier shot creator in this series. His ability to put up points — he dropped a career-high 39 in the Game 5 win — or to set up teammates (evidenced by a career-high 18 dimes in a Game 4 win) means the Hawks’ offense will always generate good looks.
.@TheTraeYoung dropped a playoff career-high 39 PTS in Game 5 ❄️
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) June 17, 2021
But he did need help to get to the finish line. What a luxury Nate McMillan has to be able to dust off Lou Williams and let him seek out buckets to provide a spark. The veteran came to life in the fourth quarter, potting 13 of his 15 points after being an afterthought all series, and that started the shift and the comeback.
Lou Williams 🔥pic.twitter.com/6rpgZckwYL
— Do Deka (@dodekabasket) June 17, 2021
The 22-year-old Young has not shot well this series, just 42.5% from the field and 32.3% from downtown, but he’s still pouring in 29.6 points and 10.8 assists per game. He’s making hay on the stripe, getting to the line just under 11 times a game to make up the difference.
For the second straight game, they also came up clutch on the defensive end to complete a massive comeback. Atlanta held the 76ers to 19 points on 29.4% shooting, including 0-from-4 from downtown.
There’s about a 7,000-pound gorilla (rough estimate) planted firmly on the 76ers after the fourth-greatest collapse in NBA playoff history. It was the biggest comeback in Hawks franchise history and, according to Stathead, teams had previously gone 476-3 when up 18 points heading into the fourth quarter of a playoff game.
The only team to blow an 18-point lead in back-to-back playoff games in the last 25 seasons:
The Philadelphia 76ers 😓
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 17, 2021
Defensively, the team that ranked second in defensive rating in the regular season was lit on fire in the fourth quarter. The Sixers allowed Atlanta to shoot 16-for-22 from the field (72.7%) en route to 40 points.
Offensively, perhaps the most damming stat was that Embiid and Seth Curry were the only Philly players to record a field goal in the second half. The rest of the starters need to show up if the Sixers want to force a Game 7. Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Furkman Korkmaz combined to go 0-for-7 from the floor for three points in more than 52 minutes of play in the second half.
In the second half:
Tobias Harris 0-4 FG
Ben Simmons 0-1 FG, 2-6 FT
Only Joel Embiid and Seth Curry made a field goal for the Sixers after halftime. pic.twitter.com/q1cqEBCdcx
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 17, 2021
Embiid’s line of 37 points, 13 rebounds and five boards looks all-world, but he faded badly when they needed him the most, going 1-for-5 in the fourth quarter. He also rimmed out two crucial free throws late that would have cut the Hawks’ lead to one.
What’s the Best Bet?
Can the Sixers put together 48 solid minutes of play? This has been a knock on Doc Rivers-led teams, which helped oust him from LA last year after the Clippers dropped three straight games to blow a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets, after holding double-digit leads in the second half of all games.
While the Hawks deserve credit for killing it in the clutch, it’s hard to not feel like the Sixers are collapsing vs Atlanta winning. Will the inexperienced Hawks finally feel pressure in their biggest game of the season?
I think even a hobbled Embiid and Simmons have been through too many playoff disappointments to flame out like this. Buckle up, Sixers fans: your team is going to run you through the ringer, but you should be rewarded with a take-all Game 7.
The Pick: 76ers ML (-144)