Three minutes into the second quarter of Game 1 between the Hawks and Sixers and it looked like anyone who was sleeping on Atlanta was about to look awfully foolish.
Written off by some as a fluke after beating a Knicks team that had outperformed their talent level all season, there they stood, up 26 points after 15 minutes, nearly doubling up the home team 53-27. Trae Young was cooking, and the Sixers looked cooked.
Since that moment, Philadelphia has outscored the spunky Hawks by 54 points in 129 minutes. They have reasserted themselves as not only the team that grabbed the East’s top seed after a consistently solid regular season, but the team that looked unstoppable when their MVP runner up Joel Embiid was on the floor.
For the playoffs, the Sixers now have a league-best positive 12.7 net rating, while Atlanta is a barely positive 0.6. In the 202 minutes with Embiid on the floor, Philly has outscored its opponents by a staggering 113 points. Atlanta has no answer, and it looks like no one else in the NBA will either.
It now seems like barring injury, it’s only a matter of when, not if the Sixers advance. As a result, they’re favored here, but with a line that pays the Hawks more respect than they’re due after the last 10 and a half quarters. Don’t be fooled. Philly keeps rolling.
76ers vs. Hawks Pick
The Pick: 76ers -3.5 @ -110
Expert 76ers vs. Hawks Predictions
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