Hawks vs. 76ers Odds
|Moneyline||+195 / -245|
|Time||Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday and via PointsBet|
It was far from smooth sailing for the Hawks, who trailed by as many as 18 points. Atlanta buckled down late and stifled the Sixers’ offense in the second half to pull off the comeback. We’ll see if they can keep that going as the series shifts back to Philadelphia.
The 76ers, however, should burn the tape and pretend the second half of Game 4 never happened.
After they held a 13-point halftime lead, it looked like Philadelphia was on its way to a 3-1 series lead. I am not sure what happened, but the Sixers looked flat. Philadelphia’s struggles culminated in Joel Embiid tossing a potential go-ahead layup hard off the glass, not even hitting the rim.
Returning home should give the 76ers a chance to recollect and get back to who they were from the third quarter of Game 1 through the second quarter of Game 2.
In a 2-2 best-of-seven series tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 wins the series about 84% of the time.
Let’s dig deeper to see if the Sixers rebound at home or Atlanta builds on their second-half comeback.
While Atlanta’s defense turned things up a notch to end Game 4, its offense still struggled to do much. The Hawks shot just 40% from the field and 30.4% from 3-point range to end the game. This was a shock compared to how well they have done for the series shooting 48.2% from the floor and 37% from behind the arc.
The Hawks’ offensive woes may have come from a shift in the game plan to help them defensively, though. Atlanta pushed the pace in Game 4 and took 101 shots, the second most of any game this season. This was meant to tire out the Sixers and slow down the offense they had no answers for.
Philadelphia was able to keep up in the first half but in the second half, the extra running caught up to them. Out of breath, the Sixers scored just 38 points and shot a mere 32.4% from the floor.
The first three games of the series showed that Atlanta cannot rely on talent alone to win this series. Game 4 showed us the Hawks do have the stamina and youth to out-will the Sixers, though.
In his postgame interview, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers even admitted that his team let Game 4 slip away because Atlanta outworked it. Running Philadelphia out of the building still seems like Atlanta’s best option.
The second half of Game 4 may have been the worst half the Sixers have played all year.
The struggles start at the top with Embiid. After looking unstoppable all series, Embiid would have only four points and shoot 0-for-12 (you read that right) from the floor.
Embiid’s struggle may be connected to his knee injury flaring up and forcing him to the locker room in the first half. It may also be due to exhaustion getting the better of him. Regardless of the issue, Philadelphia needs to hope one day off is enough for its big man to recover.
The 76ers’ other two go-to guys had similarly disappointing second halves.
After Tobias Harris started the game strong with 14 points in the first half, he struggled the remainder of the way, especially in the fourth quarter. Despite being on the floor for 10 minutes in the final quarter, Harris only attempted two shots and missed both. Harris even had the mismatch due to Atlanta playing a smaller lineup. This could be somewhere they turn in Game 5 if Embiid has injury or conditioning issues again.
Ben Simmons, meanwhile, had similar challenges.
Simmons’ first half was as impressive as Harris’, tallying eight points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. In the entire second half, he had just three points, one rebound and two assists.
It’s clear in close games that Simmons is scared to get fouled, so he starts playing passively on offense. The only solution is to practice and build his confidence from the charity stripe, but that is work for the offseason.
The good news for the Sixers in Game 5 is that even after all their struggles, they only lost by three. A slight trend toward its averages should be all Philadelphia needs to turn things around and defend its home court.
The Hawks have struggled to beat the 76ers’ elite defense. Philadelphia’s combination of All-NBA defenders Simmons, Matisse Thybulle and Embiid has made it difficult for Trae Young to create for the Hawks, who even struggled offensively in the Game 4 win.
Taking this show on the road could be difficult for Atlanta. At home, the opposing team’s anger and frustration can be amplified by the crowd. We saw Embiid display his frustration late in the third with Atlanta up just two.
Embiid has some words for Hawks fans 😳 pic.twitter.com/Vc0b5Mqgw3
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) June 15, 2021
The Hawks’ margin for error has been small in their wins and missing home court could be the difference.
For the Sixers, at home, in their biggest game of the year so far, and after Rivers saying they were outworked, I expect them to come out with a fire under their buns. They will be ready for Atlanta to push the tempo and to respond by slowing things down and running their offense.
Even if Embiid is forced to sit longer than usual due to injury or fatigue, Philly can still avoid a Game 4-like struggle offensively by going through Harris. Assuming the 76ers can slow the pace down, they should have no problem at home.
The Sixers have won each of their two games this series by 16 points. I expect them to play as they did in those victories and look like far too much for Atlanta.
Back Philadelphia to win big and regain control of the series.
Pick: Sixers -6 to -7.5