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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 – (4) New York Knicks vs (5) Atlanta Hawks

Where should the money go?

Schedule and Results

Game

Away

Home

Date

Time

TV

Results

Game 1:
ATL leads 1-0

5/23/21

7:00 PM EST

TNT

Hawks - 107
Knicks - 105

Game 2:
Series tied 1-1

5/26/21

7:30 PM EST

TNT

Hawks -  92
Knicks - 101

Game 3:
ATL leads 2-1

5/28/21

7:00 PM EST

ESPN

Knicks - 94
Hawks -  105

Game 4:
ATL leads 3-1

5/30/21

1:00 PM EST

ABC

Knicks - 96
Hawks -  113

Game 5:
ATL wins series 4-1

6/02/21

7:30 PM ET

TNT

Hawks -  103
Knicks - 89

East First Round – (4) New York Knicks vs (5) Atlanta Hawks – Series preview

(4) New York Knicks

Did anyone expect the Knicks to be winning anything over 20 games in the shortened 70 game season? Probably not a lot of you but hell, here we are! I am all for it let’s go Knicks nation! Enter in Tom Thibodeau and the second season of Julius Randle in a Knicks uniform.

The Knicks are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA this season and that isn’t surprising being led by Thibodeau. New York’s ability to stand out all season long was by becoming a gritty defensive team that leans on Randle to put them over the top in the close moments.

Derrick Rose joined the Knicks in a midseason trade and the reunion with Thibbs from their Chicago days reincarnated some brief success in New York. The biggest question for the Knicks in this series is going to be point guard play. Defensively, the Knicks are going to be tested by Trae Young’s ability to penetrate and get into the paint. Depending on how well they defend this the sky is the limit for the Knicks in this series.

(5) Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are a feel-good story for the league. After starting the season with Head Coach Lloyd Pierce and finishing with Nate McMillan the coaching change WORKED! Atlanta locks up the 5th seed after a slow start to their season. In their final eight regular season games, they went 7-1.

Trae Young finally gets his first stab at the playoffs in his third year (and perhaps a year he may have been snubbed as an All-Star). He averages 8.7 free throw attempts per game and this could be a point to watch if he’s able to get into the interior of the Knicks on defense.

Lastly, the bright spot for the Hawks is that their best player Young averaged 24.7 points, 12.0 assists, and 2.3 rebounds in 3 games versus the Knicks this season. Currently, the Hawks are running a 4-game win streak into the Playoffs and one of the better teams in the month of May and 7-3 in their last 10 games.

Top players to watch

Julius Randle – 2020-2021 season

  • 24.1 PPG
  • 10.2 RPG
  • 6.0 APG

Trae Young: 2020-2021 season

  • 25.3 PPG
  • 3.9 RPG
  • 9.4 APG