Both the Philadelphia 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks came away with five-game gentlemen’s sweeps in their respective first-round series. Now the two franchises will collide in a seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series beginning on Sunday, June 6 at 1 p.m. ET on ABC.
The No. 1 seeded 76ers will have their hands full with a fiery, upstart Hawks lineup so we’ll take a look at the odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook and determine who will be booking a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Sixers unsurprisingly enters the second-round series as the favorites after withstanding a fiesty Washington Wizards ballclub in the round one to advance. The Sixers led all playoff teams in scoring by averaging 124 points a game throughout the series and were boosted by the performance of Tobias Harris, who averaged 25 points on roughly 51 percent shooting and 10 rebounds and Ben Simmons, who came just short of averaging a triple-double. They were also boosted by completely stifling the Wizards from beyond the arc, holding them to a playoff-low 28.9 percent shooting from three.
The elephant in the room for Philly, of course, is the status of Joel Embiid, who was taken out of Game 4 and missed Game 5 with a small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. Entering this series against Atlanta, the MVP candidate is listed as day-to-day and was putting up 24 points on 63.5 percent shooting before he went down with an injury.
On the other side of the court are the Hawks, who extinguished the New York Knicks hype train in five games. In his very first trip to the postseason, Trae Young embraced the role of villain and did a masterful job, averaging 29.2 points and 9.8 points for the series while effectively trolling the Madison Square Garden faithful on multiple occasions. He was aided by the likes of Bogdan Bogdanovic, John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, and Clint Capela, all of whom averaged double-digit points for the series as well.
The Hawks showed their mantle on the defensive end of the floor, holding the Knicks to just 97 points a game on roughly 40 percent shooting, earning a collective defensive ration of 102.1.
Who will win the series?
The series correct score line favors Philadelphia taking this in five but Embiid’s injury provides a giant question mark looming over the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Even so, the contributions of Harris, Simmons, and Seth Curry still make the 76ers a tough out overall. Young and the Hawks will be game to make Philly sweat but Philly taking the series in six would be the smart play here.
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