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
1:00 PM ET
Hawks - 128
7:30 PM ET
Hawks - 102
7:30 PM ET
76ers - 127