Updated on Tuesday, 6/8/21, at 4:57 p.m. Eastern — The line has been rising all day and is up to six or 6.5 at most books. The total is now 224 or 224.5 points, while the Hawks are now +230 on the money line.
The Atlanta Hawks took a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals by capturing a 128-124 win at Philadelphia in Sunday’s series opener. Nate McMillan’s team led by double digits for nearly the entire game and held off the 76ers’ late rally in the final minute.
Atlanta (46-32 straight up, 44-32-1 against the spread) won outright as a 4.5-point underdog, hooking up money-line supporters with a +170 payout. The 252 combined points soared ‘over’ the 219.5-point total.
Trae Young scored 35 points and dished out 10 assists to pace the Hawks, who got 21 points out of Bogdan Bogdanovic. Young had 25 points in the first half when Atlanta took a 74-54 lead into intermission.
The 76ers cut the lead to 15 with 8:44 left in the third quarter, only to see the Hawks respond with a 10-0 run to push the lead back to 25. Atlanta had held a double-digit lead since there was 3:25 left in the first quarter, and Philadelphia didn’t cut the deficit to single digits until Seth Curry hit a 3-pointer with 1:41 remaining to make it 118-111.
After getting a stop, the 76ers got a bucket from Joel Embiid to trim the deficit to 118-113. Then they forced a quick turnover and another basket by Embiid made it a three-point game with 1:01 remaining.
However, with 41.4 seconds left, Bogdanovic buried a 29-footer late in the shot clock. Atlanta then fouled Ben Simmons intentionally with 38.1 seconds remaining. Simmons made one of two, but then Tobias Harris got a steal and a dunk to make it 121-118 with 28.7 ticks left.
Atlanta’s Kevin Huerter dribbled out of backcourt pressure on the ensuing possession and made a nice pass ahead to John Collins, who drew a clear path foul from Embiid. Collins knocked down both free throws for a four-point advantage.
Next, Atlanta’s Young dribbled out of a trap and dished to Collins for an alley-oop dunk that also drew a foul from Embiid for a three-point play.
The loss dropped Philadelphia (53-25 SU, 41-34-3 ATS) to 32-8 SU and 24-15-1 ATS at home.
The good news for Doc Rivers’s squad was that Embiid clearly can play effectively despite the partial tear of his meniscus that caused him to miss Game 5 of the 76ers’ opening-round series vs. Washington. It was a game-time decision for whether the veteran center would play, but he produced 39 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and one steal.
Harris had 20 points, 10 boards, three assists and three steals, while Curry finished with 21 points, four rebounds and three assists on 5-of-9 shooting from downtown. Simmons had 17 points, 10 assists, four rebounds and four steals, but he committed five turnovers and made only 3-of-10 attempts from the free-throw line.
Collins contributed 21 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Huerter had 15 points, five boards and four assists compared to just one turnover. Clint Capela added 11 points, 10 rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot.
The Hawks hit 51.2 percent of their field-goal attempts, 20-of-47 launches from 3-point land and 20-of-21 FTAs.
Philadelphia had a 41-35 rebounding advantage, but the 76ers committed 19 turnovers. Atlanta coughed up the ball 15 times.
For Tuesday’s Game 2 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, most shops had the 76ers listed as 5.5-point home favorites on Monday afternoon. The line was up to -6 by Tuesday morning. The total was 223.5 points, while the Hawks were +205 on the money line.
Atlanta is 5-1 both SU and ATS in the postseason to date. Going back further, the Hawks are 12-2 SU and 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games.
Philadelphia had better win Game 2 because if not, it’ll face the daunting task of attempting to snap Atlanta’s 13-game winning streak at home. The Hawks are 21-2 SU and 19-4 ATS in their last 23 home contests.
After missing 53 games with a knee injury, Atlanta forward De’Andre Hunter returned to play in three of his team’s final four regular-season games. The University of Virginia swingman played in all five games of the series against the Knicks, but he sat out Game 1 with knee soreness.
Hunter has already been deemed a game-time decision for Game 2. If he can’t go, veteran forward Solomon Hill will probably start again in his place.
Atlanta’s Kris Dunn is ‘out’ of Game 2 with a non-Covid illness.
The Hawks are down to 18/1 to win the NBA title at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. I bought an Atlanta ticket at 100/1 about six weeks ago.
Most shops still have the 76ers as short favorites to win the series and advance to the East finals.
The ‘under’ was on a 7-0-1 run for the Hawks until Game 1 easily jumped ‘over’ the total. The ‘over’ has cashed in seven of the last eight games for the 76ers.
PREDICTION: ‘OVER’ 223 POINTS.
The 7-0-1 run of ‘unders’ in Atlanta games was more of an indictment on the Knicks’ ineptitude on offense. In the three ‘unders’ before the postseason started, the Hawks scored 120, 116 and 124 in those games. The 120-116 win over Washington had 236 combined points, but it dipped ‘under’ the 238.5-point total. We aren’t dealing with a total nearly that high in this situation (it was at 223 as of late Monday afternoon). I’m not implying we’re going to see 252 combined points in Game 2, but the strategy of fouling Simmons certainly helps our cause. Danny Green has been a stellar defender throughout his career, but he can’t effectively defend Young at this point in his career. In fact, nobody Doc Rivers threw at Young had any success in the series opener. I think we continue to get a lot of offense in Game 2. Let’s go with the ‘over.’
You can check out my NBA picks record here. My overall record is 141-112-3 (55.7%, +18.27 UNITS) for the season.