The Philadelphia 76ers are one game away from an early exit in the 2021 NBA playoffs. After taking a 2-1 lead with a convincing performance in Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks, the 76ers have coughed up two big leads in consecutive games to find themselves down 3-2. Head coach Doc Rivers will bear the brunt of the jokes if Philadelphia flames out, but the team’s stars will also face questions about their ceiling.
Joel Embiid struggled in Game 4, going 4-20 from the field but bounced back in Game 5. He had a chance at the end of the contest to save the 76ers, but couldn’t deliver. Embiid has also been struggling through a meniscus injury, so his performances should be weighed against his health. Ben Simmons shot 50 percent from the floor in Game 4, but was out of sync in Game 5 with only four shot attempts and 10 missed free throws.
The 76ers are currently +130 to win the series against the Hawks, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Philadelphia is favored to win Game 6 (-3), though that line can change quickly.
The Hawks will feel confident heading back to Atlanta to potentially close out the series, but it’s not like they’ve been amazing. Atlanta needed a 40-19 margin in the fourth quarter to come back in Game 5 and won Game 4 despite shooting 30 percent from behind the arc. Wins are win, but the Hawks haven’t been torching the 76ers by any means.
For prospective bettors, any decision to back the 76ers depends on how they feel about Simmons. After being told to be more aggressive in Game 3, Simmons responded in the second half. However, his poor free-throw shooting and overall inconsistency in the offense leads to questions about how he’ll show up in Game 6.
Rivers also factors into the equation. He’s won a championship, but is also the only coach to blow multiple 3-1 leads in the playoffs. The 76ers have the talent, but they’re failing to close out games. Rivers will have to manage his rotations better so his best unit is out on the floor at 100 percent in crunch time.
The 76ers have never made it past the conference semifinals in the Embiid-Simmons era. This was supposed to be a cakewalk, but the Hawks are showing tenacity and flair at the right time while the Sixers are crumbling. There’s value on them if you think they’ll be able to take one game on the road, but Philadelphia’s general inconsistencies offensively might not be worth the wager.
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