The #1 Philadelphia 76ers have a difficult task ahead of them for Game 6, facing elimination on the road after the #5 Atlanta Hawks won two games in a row and seized a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The 76ers blew a 26-point lead in Game 5 and the Hawks stormed back to take control of the series.

Trae Young Joel Embiid Atlanta Hawks Philadelphia 76ers NBA Playoffs Game 6
Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks scoots by Joel Embiid from the Philadelphia 76ers. (Image: James Lang/USA Today Sports)

The 76ers seek to stave off elimination in Game 6 and force a seventh game at home in Philadelphia. The Hawks have home-court advantage in Game 6 and are hell-bent on landing a knock-out blow with Joel Embiid and top-seeded 76ers staggering on the ropes.

Game 6: #1 Philadelphia 76ers (2-3) at #5 Atlanta Hawks (3-2)
  • Tip-off: 7:30 pm ET
  • Location: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
  • Point Spread: PHI -3
  • Total: 221 o/u
  • Money Line: ATL +135 / PHI -150
  • Series Line: PHI +140 / ATL -177

The Hawks won three games in this series by a total of 10 points. The 76ers won both of their games by a 15-point margin.

The Hawks are the new favorites to win this series at -177 odds. The 76ers are +140 underdogs to win two games in a row to complete a comeback after trailing 3-2. The 76ers saw their odds plummet and, according to a recent update by the South Point in Las Vegas, they are now +1200 odds to win the 2021 NBA championship. The Hawks are still the long shot on the board at +2000.

Hawks: Trae Young stealing the show

Trae Young proudly played the role of the heel in the opening-round series against the New York Knicks. The crowd at Madison Square Garden now has a new villain after they taunted and booed Young, who responded by beating the Knicks in five games.

Young is playing the role of the bad guy once again in the second round. Fans from Philly weren’t shy about sharing their thoughts about Young’s thinning hairline or sexual partners, but so far, Young has the upper hand with a 3-2 series lead.

The Hawks won Game 1, but many so-called experts chalked it up to a fluke. The 76ers cruised to victories in the next two games and snagged a 2-1 lead. The Hawks won a clutch Game 4 by three points when the 76ers blew a late lead in the fourth quarter. In Game 5, the Hawks successfully rallied once again. The 76ers looked totally stunned when Young and the Hawks made up a 26-point deficit to steal the win.

“If you don’t believe, you got to believe now,” said Atlanta Hawks head coach Nate McMillan.

The Hawks outscored the 76ers 40-19 in the fourth quarter to complete the insane comeback.

“We got too comfortable,” said Philly point guard Ben Simmons. “We didn’t play the way we should be playing.”

Young scored 39 points with seven assists. He averages 29.6 points and 10.8 assists per game this series. When he’s not dishing, he’s swishing. “We keep fighting no matter what the score is,” said Young. “I’m proud of this team. We have confidence in each other.”

Philly: Another Q4 collapse

The 76ers fell apart in the fourth quarter in back-to-back games. The Hawks outgunned the 76ers 63-37 in the fourth quarter in the last two games. The 76ers scored only 18 points in Game 4 and eked out 19 points in Game 5.

Embiid and Seth Curry were the only members of the 76ers to score a bucket in the entire second half of Game 5. Embiid scored 37 points in the loss. Someone else will have to shoot the rock if they expect to stay alive. Embiid has been playing this series with a torn meniscus, but he’s been fantastic nonetheless, averaging 32 points and 13 rebounds per game.

Simmons will have to work on his free-throw shooting in the offseason. He shot 4-for-14 in Game 5. His free-throw shooting woes are a massive liability with a 33% clip from the charity stripe this postseason.

“When Ben makes them, we get to leave him in,” explained Rivers. “When he doesn’t, we can’t. That’s just the way it is.”

Philly’s bench needs to add more scoring help. They were outscored 39-13 in Game 5.

The 76ers have been unable to come up with a defensive formula to slow down Young, especially off a pick-and-roll situation. Young picked apart the Knicks in the first round, and that’s against the top defensive team in the NBA. If the 76ers can’t slow Young down in Game 6, then they’re heading on summer vacation much sooner than they expected.

“We’ll be back here for Game 7,” said a confident Rivers. “I believe that.”

Check out more coverage of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.