Embiid, or not Embiid? That’s the million dollar question on the minds of fans and sports bettors heading into the second round of the NBA playoffs. If Joel Embiid can play and contribute with a torn meniscus injury, then the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers could hold off the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. But if Embiid’s injury prevents him from playing or being effective for the 76ers in any way, then the Hawks have a good shot at advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals and winning the series.

Tobias Harris Joel Embiid injury Philadelphia 76ers Atlanta Hawks series NBA playoffs
Tobias Harris of the Philadelphia 76ers lead the Sixers in scoring during the Washington Wizards series due to an unfortunate injury to teammate Joel Embiid. (Image: AP)

The Philadelphia 76ers locked up the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference after holding off a late surge from the Brooklyn Nets in the closing week of the season.

if Embiid didn’t hurt his knee in Game against the Washington Wizards, the 76ers might’ve swept the Wiz in the first round. The 76ers lost Game 4, but knocked out Washington in Game 5 without Embiid.

#5 Atlanta Hawks vs #1 Philadelphia 76ers
Atlanta Hawks +160 Philadelphia 76ers -200


Atlanta Hawks vs Philadelphia 76ers – SERIES SCORE PROP
76ers win 4-0 +700
76ers win 4-1 +375
76ers win 4-2 +450
76ers win 4-3 +450
Hawks win 4-0 +1400
Hawks win 4-1 +800
Hawks win 4-2 +500
Hawks win 4-3 +600

The Hawks and New York Knicks battled for the #4 seed in the last month of the season, but the Knicks edged them out. Even with the #5 seed, the Hawks picked off the Knicks in five games. The Hawks did not exactly dominate the Knicks in so much as the Knicks gifted the Hawks the first-round series thanks to a horrible slump from NBA’s Most Improved Player Julius Randle, who disappeared in the playoffs.

Betting the 76ers and Hawks

With the status of Embiid for Game 1 unknown, the 76ers opened as -2.5 favorites in the series opener against the Hawks on Sunday.

The 76ers love playing in their home arena, the Wells Fargo Center.  Over the previous two seasons, the 76ers won 84.5% of their home games in Philly. They won all three home games so far in the 2021 postseason. At 29-7, the 76ers boasted the best home record in the east this season, along with the second-best home-court advantage in the NBA. Last season, the 76ers were also unbeatable at home with a 31-4 clip.

The Hawks struggled away from Atlanta where they were 16-20 on the road this season.

Betting wise, the Hawks are 44-33-1 ATS this season, including the playoffs, for the NBA’s fourth-best record beating the spread. The 76ers are right behind them at 41-33-3.

The 76ers are +1000 odds to win the 2021 NBA championship according to the Circa Sportsbook in downtown Las Vegas. The Hawks are one of the long shots on the NBA futures board at +3500 odds.

The 76ers are +400 odds to win the Eastern Conference, while the Hawks are another long shot at +1700 odds.

Atlanta Hawks: The Trae Young Band

Everyone knows Trae Young is awesome, but the Hawks need someone else to step up against the 76ers.

Young led the Hawks with 29.2 points and 9.8 assists against the Knicks. The Hawks lacked a consistent secondary scorer this postseason. John Collins (12.2 ppg) struggled in the first round due to foul trouble in nearly every game. Bogdan Bogdanovic (14.4 ppg) was hot and cold, especially from 3-point land.

But if no one else alleviates the scoring burden and helps Young, he’ll gladly take the rock and get the job done.

“Trae’s built for this time of the season with the confidence he brings to the floor, his skill level for scoring the basketball and creating opportunities,” said Atlanta head coach Nate McMillan. “It’s really tough to game plan against him.”

The Knicks were the top defensive team in the NBA, but Young carved up their usually air-tight defense. Young shot 34.1% from 3-point range, but he set up his teammates on the perimeter against the Knicks, where Atlanta’s sharpshooters were waiting. Kevin Huerter (45.5%), Lou Williams (42.95), and John Collins (39%) nearly all shot 40% or better from beyond the arc. Danilo Gallinari and Bogdanovic are also great shooters, but the pair of Europeans shot around 33% from deep.

Big man Clint Capela averaged a double-double with 10 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, but he provided the Hawks with steady rim protection as their best defender.

Philadelphia 76ers: Can Sixers Win Sans Embiid?

The 76ers didn’t mope or freak out without their captain. Ben Simmons had stellar game with a triple-double, while veteran Seth Curry also provided a boost in the close-out game with a career-high 30 points.

“We don’t have a choice, we got to have that confidence,” said Curry. “That’s who we’ve been all year. We got a lot of confident guys in there who had a good year. Joel has been huge for us all year so it’s only right for us to give him as much time as he needs to get back and help us win it all.”

Simmons scored 19 points, dished 11 assists, and pulled down 10 rebounds in the Game 5 victory over the Wiz. Tobias Harris added 28 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. Harris led the 76ers in scoring with 25 ppg through five playoff games including 37 points in Game 1.

76ers head coach Doc Rivers expects Embiid to return against the Hawks.

“I don’t know when or how early,” said Rivers. “I’m hopeful. I think that’s a better way of putting it.”

Embiid averaged 29.3 ppg through the first three games before he exited Game 4 at the end of the first quarter with eight points. The big man also shot 37.5% from 3-point range when the Wizards left him open at the top of the key.

With a hot-shooting Harris and Simmons playing well, the 76ers would like to think they can survive the Hawks series without Embiid. Let’s be honest, the 76ers might be able to squeak by the Hawks in the semifinals. However, the 76ers with a banged-up Embiid face a tough challenge to beat the winner of the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks series in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Check out more coverage of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

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