The Hawks are in the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time since the 2015-16 season, when the Lebron James-led Cavaliers swept a team made of Al Horford, Paul Milsap, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, and a young Dennis Schroder. This time around, they’ll be up against the 76ers, who seek to end a two-decade Eastern Conference Finals drought. This is also the first playoff meeting between the teams since 1982, when Philly swept a best-of-three first-round series.
Atlanta and Philadelphia take the court in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday, June 6 at 1:00 PM ET on ABC, and as of right now, the Hawks open as underdogs at +165 to win this series while the Sixers are the favorites at -215 — even with the status of Joel Embiid in question, who suffered a small meniscus tear, which is expected to be treated with physical therapy and other non-surgical methods.
Embiid is currently considered “day-to-day,” but I assume he’s only being designated as that because it’s the postseason, and even if he does return, there should be doubt he’ll be the same player he was in the first round. I don’t understand these odds whatsoever, but oddsmakers are probably tied up with Embiid’s questionable designation. However, I believe he won’t play at all, especially after what happened with Anthony Davis in Game 6 against the Suns. The Sixers are +450 to win the series in six games, but Philly winning in five games is the most likely outcome on most books, set at around +350, which is completely outrageous to me as the Hawks taking the series in five or six games is 5/1 and 6/1 odds, respectively.
But I must remind the readers what those same people felt about the Hawks’ first-round series…
This is wild. And not at all unexpected. I don’t do conspiracy theories. But bias is a real thing. If you don’t think the league office being in NY has anything to do with this then I don’t know what to tell you… pic.twitter.com/jMGoi8MzIq
— Glen Willis (@willis_glen) May 18, 2021
Without Joel Embiid, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hawks won in five. Philly is the initial favorite at -2.5 on the spread for Game 1, but this is without any news on the Sixers’ big man. Kendrick Perkins seems to be the only national personality to recognize the potential of this Hawks team.
I fully expect the team to announce this weekend before the game that Embiid won’t play, proceeded by a statement win by a young Hawks team in the Wells Fargo Center.
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