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2021 NBA Playoffs: East Conference Semifinals – (1) Philadelphia 76ers vs (5) Atlanta Hawks

East Conference Semifinals: (1) Philadelphia 76ers vs (5) Atlanta Hawks – Series preview

(1) Philadelphia 76ers

 The 76ers came in with arguably the most favorable path to get to the Finals. A first-round series against the Washington Wizards shouldn’t have been a hassle. It wasn’t a hassle as the 76ers locked up the series in five games. However, learning after Game 4 Joel Embiid suffered a partially torn meniscus. He also did not play in Game 5 but obviously not missed.

As of Game 1, he is in the starting line-up and what is yet to be determined is how long can he long with the injury but most importantly how well can Embiid be an impact. Obviously, the Hawks defense will still have their hands full if Embiid isn’t impacted greatly. It still does give an opportunity for the Hawks to feel how mobile Embiid is and adjust accordingly, however.

The 76ers also arguably could be referenced as the BEST defensive team in the NBA this season as they rated top 5 for most of the season. Ben Simmons will have the task of slowing down Trae Young and who else better to do it than the potential Defensive Player of the Year?

The biggest plus here that Philly presents is they are very good defensively but they do not have an issue scoring the basketball like the Knicks. The Hawks will be facing better talent in Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, and Danny Green all shooters who shot 48-percent or better respectively against the Wizards last series. Dwight Howard is also a better defensive player on the interior to combat Clint Capela. 

(5) Atlanta Hawks

The final bow was Trae Young’s best act yet? Well, there is more to come as the lower seed of the 4th and 5th seed survived to the Conference Semifinals. After a 4-1 series win against the New York Knicks, the Hawks also got better news that Joel Embiid isn’t fully healthy.

The biggest boost of confidence for the Hawks is that not only was Young coming alive with this offensive flurry of scoring but Bogdan Bogdanovic and John Collins both seem to be the beneficiaries of the defense focusing on Young. Bogdanovic averaged 14.4 points per game against the Knicks while Collins averaged 12.2 points per game.

The likelihood of the Hawks winning this series will fall on how well Embiid is of an impact truthfully. Should Embiid see limited minutes I’d imagine this is a good chance for the Hawks to attack the paint and allow Trae Young to work from inside out to his shooters like Bogdanovic and Collins. Bench scoring for Atlanta will be key as Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter saw most of the minutes from the Hawks bench against the Knicks. Again, two guys who can shoot from long range.

The promising bright spot for Atlanta and their defense is De’Andre Hunter. However, Hunter has a knee injury and will not play in Game 1. At 6’8 he’s Atlanta’s best option to try and combat a Ben Simmons who is listed at 6’11. Some key injuries for both teams could decide how this series plays out however, Atlanta overall at a disadvantage defensively.

Top players to watch

Joel Embiid – First Round vs Washington

  • 24.0 PPG
  • 6.8 RPG
  • 2.5 APG

Trae Young – First Round vs New York

  • 29.2 PPG
  • 2.8 RPG
  • 9.8 APG

Where should the money go?

Schedule and Results

Game

Away

Home

Date

Time

TV

Results

Game 1:
ATL leads series 1-0

6/06/21

1:00 PM ET

ABC

Hawks - 128
76ers - 124

Game 2:
Series tied 1-1

6/08/21

7:30 PM ET

TNT

Hawks - 102
76ers - 118

Game 3:
PHI leads series 2-1

6/11/21

7:30 PM ET

ESPN

76ers - 127
Hawks - 111

Game 4

6/14/21

TBD

TNT

Game 5:

6/16/21

TBD

TBD

Game 6:
If Necessary

6/18/21

TBD

TBD

Game 7:
If Necessary

6/20/21

TBD

TBD

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2021 NBA Playoffs: East First Round – (1) Philadelphia 76ers vs (8) Washington Wizards

Where should the money go?

East First Round – (1) Philadelphia 76ers vs (8) Washington Wizards – Series preview

(1) Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia enters in the season with a new coach in Doc Rivers and a few key additions such as Danny Green, Dwight Howard, and Seth Curry. It seems to be making all the world of a difference post-Brett Brown. A team that never lost its top spot in the Eastern Conference and clinched the first seed. The 76ers are one of the best defensive teams rated in the NBA this season.

Joel Embiid is an MVP candidate and Ben Simmons is a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year. That’s two All-Stars on one team playing at an elite level over the rest of the league in the same season. Embiid’s likelihood of averaging 35 points a game this series or more is very likely.

The odds of the Wizards defending Embiid and the paint effectively can be thrown out the window. There is nothing creative or perplexing that the 76ers will have to do in this series to win. That’s even considering that Russell Westbrook is on the other side of the spectrum as the Triple-Double King.

(8) Washington Wizards

This series took almost an entire week and two games for the Wizards to arrive at the 8th seed. They come in as the underwhelming underdogs and it is straightforward from me here. The Wizards are looking for a miracle, heart, and hustle, and maybe the help of a good shooting night a few times in this series.

Their defensive scheme to combat Joel Embiid will be Alex Len, Davis Bertans, Daniel Gafford? That might work to rotate the fouls and attempts to bother Embiid’s dominance. Wizards Head Coach, Scott Brooks made a comment after the team’s loss to the Celtics last Tuesday night. He alluded to the fact that his team does not shoot the three-ball well then, their best effort was to try and get to the free-throw line more often in the game (and they did not enough against the Celtics in Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Play-in Tournament.

Furthermore, the top 3 teams that averaged the most free throws in the season? Washington with 26.2 attempts per game while Philadelphia averaged 25.5 free throws per game in the regular season. Scott Brooks better come up with another game plan if the free throw shooting doesn’t pan out in his favor.

Top players to watch

Joel Embiid: 2020-2021 season

  • 28.5 PPG
  • 10.6 RPG
  • 2.8 APG

Russell Westbrook: 2020-2021 season

  • 22.2 PPG
  • 11.5 RPG
  • 11.7 APG

Where should the money go?

Schedule and Results

Game

Away

Home

Date

Time

TV

Results

Game 1:
PHI leads 1-0

5/23/21

1:00 PM ET

TNT

Wizards - 118
76ers - 125

Game 2:
PHI leads 2-0

5/26/21

7:00 PM ET

NBA TV

Wizards - 95
76ers - 120

Game 3:
PHI leads 3-0

5/29/21

7:00 PM ET

ESPN

76ers - 132 Wizards - 103

Game 4:
PHI leads 3-1

5/31/21

7:00 PM ET

TNT

76ers - 114 
Wizards - 122

Game 5:
PHI wins series 4-1

6/02/21

7:00 PM ET

TBD

Wizards - 112
76ers - 129

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