76ers at Hawks Pick – Philadelphia 76ers -1 (-110)
As expected, the Philadelphia 76ers bounced back from a Game 1 defeat to claim Game 2 over the Atlanta Hawks in Tuesday’s Game 2. The series will now shift to Atlanta for a hugely important Game 3 on Friday night.
Philly couldn’t afford to fall into an 0-2 hole going back to Atlanta, so Joel Embiid made sure of it. Embiid put 40 points on the board on 13-for-25 shooting in Game 2, including a 12-for-16 effort from the free throw line. The Sixers’ MVP added 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block for good measure. Embiid was questionable heading into Game 2 with the meniscus tear in his right knee, but he wound up starting and logging 35 minutes in the victory.
The Hawks have been underdogs in each of the first two games in this series, and that’ll be the case again on Friday. The 76ers are listed as slight 1-point favorites for Game 3 at BetOnline in a game that features an over/under of 224.5 points.
Shake Milton’s Eruption
Embiid has been listed as questionable again for Game 3. At this point, it’s just safe to assume that the Sixers are engaging in a bit of gamesmanship with their opponents. Considering how well he has played in each of the first two contests, there’s no reason to believe Embiid won’t give it a go again tonight. The 76ers haven’t been limiting his minutes at all, so it’s really just a matter of managing pain for the All-Star center.
So far, the Hawks have had no answer for him. Embiid scored another 39 points in Game 1 in 38 minutes of action as the Sixers’ late rally ultimately fell short. While Philly won’t win a title without Embiid playing as well as he possibly can, he could still use some help.
Tobias Harris has averaged 21 points through the first two games, but Shake Milton was an unlikely hero in Game 2. Milton scored 14 points in 14 minutes off the bench after playing just one minute in Game 1. Milton had fallen out of Doc Rivers’ rotation in the latter stages of the season, but he may have just played his way back into his coach’s good graces. Rivers turned to Milton after the 76ers’ bench went scoreless in the first half, and Milton helped Philly stave off the Hawks’ third-quarter rally.
A Trae Young free throw gave the Hawks a brief 80-79 lead at one point late in the third. Once Milton came on, things swung in the complete opposite direction. Milton poured in all 14 of his points after entering at the 2:46 mark of the third. By the time he exited the game at the 3:36 mark of the fourth, the Sixers had built a 113-97 lead. His outburst turned the game on its head, and may have ultimately saved the 76ers’ season.
Hawks’ Injury Issue
While Embiid is playing through a torn meniscus, Hawks swingman De’Andre Hunter has been unable to do the same. Hunter missed the first two games with the same injury, and the team announced on Wednesday that he will miss the rest of the season in order to undergo surgery. Hunter has quietly played well in his second pro campaign for Atlanta, so this is no small loss.
Nate McMillan has started Solomon Hill in each of the first two games in Hunter’s place, but Kevin Huerter is surely the solution at the position. Huerter came up big for the Hawks in Game 2, finishing with 20 points on efficient 8-for-10 shooting in 36 minutes off the bench. Atlanta also got an outstanding performance from Danilo Gallinari, who contributed another 21 points in 26 minutes in a reserve role.
Atlanta’s bench has badly outplayed that of the Sixers to begin the series, which could be key moving forward. Teams with better depth tend to have more stability over the course of a long series, so it’s worth wondering whether the 76ers can stay upright around a hobbled Embiid as the series progresses.
The issue for Atlanta in Game 2 was a lack of production from the starters. Trae Young scored 21 points, but the other four starters combined for just 32. John Collins was quiet after a big Game 1, while Embiid got Clint Capela into foul trouble.
How to Bet 76ers vs. Hawks Game 3
The Hawks managed to win Game 1 thanks to a blistering hot first-half shooting performance. The Sixers buckled down defensively after halftime in that one, and almost rallied all the way back to steal the game at the end. Atlanta put up a fight after falling into an early hole in Game 2, but the Sixers were able to right the ship and even the series at a game apiece.
On balance, the 76ers have been the better team for most of the first two games. Philly has outplayed Atlanta over the last six quarters. Until the Hawks find a way to slow Embiid, there isn’t much reason to doubt the Sixers’ chances. 79 points for Embiid through the first two games tells you all you need to know.
Now that the series has shifted to Atlanta, there’s more pressure on the Hawks. They were playing with house money after nabbing Game 1, but the Hawks now can’t afford to get swept on their home floor. Winning Game 3 would go a long way toward building the confidence necessary to pull the series upset, but the momentum is clearly in favor of the 76ers at this point.
I like Philly to keep it going in Game 3. It should be a fun, hard-fought game, but I like the Sixers to cover the slim margin and pull out the victory. For more NBA betting value check out our Suns at Nuggets Pick for Game 3.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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