76ers

Hawks 129, Sixers 127: Sixers fall victim to dreaded letdown game vs. plucky Hawks

Hawks 129, Sixers 127: Sixers fall victim to dreaded letdown game vs. plucky Hawks

BOX SCORE

What a letdown.

Coming off a huge win over the Celtics, the Sixers came out flat in a 129-127 loss to the feisty young Hawks at State Farm Arena Saturday night.

Rookie Trae Young buried a floater with .01 seconds left to halt the Sixers' winning streak at six.

The loss drops the Sixers to 47-26 on the season.

Here are observations from the game:

• The first half was defense optional. Atlanta shot 53 percent from the floor, including 9 of 24 (37 percent) from three. The Hawks scored 74 points, the most the Sixers have surrendered to an opponent in a half this season. Still, the Sixers trailed by only six at the break.

This was just an obvious letdown early, but give the Sixers credit for turning it up. They went on a 15-3 run to close the third quarter and tie the game at 100.

But defensive issues continued to plague the Sixers in the fourth as they allowed 29 points.

• Don’t be fooled by their record, this Hawks team is a plucky bunch.

Young has been excellent since the All-Star break, averaging 24.9 points and 8.7 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from three. Second-year forward John Collins is having a strong sophomore campaign, averaging 19.5 and 9.7 rebounds a contest.

Young did his thing in this one, recording 32 points on 11 of 20 and 11 assists. The Young-Collins pick-and-roll hurt the Sixers big time. In fact, pick-and-roll defense continues to be an issue for the Sixers in general.

• Joel Embiid has been a monster since returning to the lineup against the Pacers on March 10. In those five games, he’s averaging almost 30 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks a contest. 

After hitting 20 of 21 against the Celtics Wednesday, Embiid lived at the line yet again Saturday, going 11 of 14.

He also showed off more of his guard-like skills.

He did get a little too loose with his handle on a couple plays down the stretch that led to two poorly-timed turnovers. He finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds.

• Since putting up 32 points in Oklahoma City, Tobias Harris has been mired in a mini-slump. In his last 10 games, he’s shooting just 32 percent from three.

With that in mind, Harris made a concerted effort to get to the basket and get easier looks. He made three nice floaters in the paint in the first quarter. After starting the game 4 of 4, Harris went just 1 of his next 12. He had just 13 points.

Harris struggled defensively as well, especially when switched on to rookie Young. Mike Scott helped pick up the slack a little against his former team, going 3 of 6 from three and scoring nine points.

• It was interesting to see Jimmy Butler bring the ball up the floor on the Sixers’ first possession, but certainly not surprising. This could be a formula that works. If Ben Simmons can push the ball in transition, you run. If not, you give the ball to Butler and let him work in the half court.

It was evident early on that Kevin Huerter wasn’t physically strong enough to stick with Butler as the rookie picked up two early fouls. Butler was more assertive than usual early on with 13 first-half points.

Butler was good down the stretch, but didn't handle a double team well on the Sixers' possession before Young's game-winner. He had 25 points.

• Since the Hawks don’t have a viable rim protector or player that matches up well, this looked like a matchup Simmons could do well in. He looked to get to the basket early and often, but missed a few easy looks early on, but was better after halftime. He went 9 of 16 for 21 points.

There is a wrinkle to the Sixers’ offense with the Simmons-Embiid pairing. They run a “snug” pick-and-roll which is basically just a pick-and-roll run through the post. It’s such a difficult thing to stop with their size and skills.

Simmons continues to do an excellent job taking care of the basketball. He had nine assists to just two turnovers.

• Boban Marjanovic hit his first career three and it was a beaut from the corner.

Before tonight, Marjanovic was 0 for 3 for his career. Brett Brown told us that this could be something we saw. Marjanovic has nice touch for such a massive human.

With that said, it was another tough defensive game for Marjanovic. He was a big part of the Sixers’ porous defense, especially in the pick-and-roll.

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Oddsmakers set the betting odds on Sixers-Raptors series

Oddsmakers set the betting odds on Sixers-Raptors series

If the oddsmakers are right, we could be in for an exciting and long series between the Toronto Raptors and the Sixers. 

With both teams disposing of their first-round opponents in convincing fashion in the fifth game, the odds are set for a clash of Eastern Conference titans that could go the distance.

According to DraftKings, the Raptors are -200 favorites to win the series, meaning a $200 bet would return a total of $300. They have the Sixers listed at +150, meaning a $100 bet would return $250.

There are also odds available on DraftKings on the correct series score. The Raptors winning in seven games is the most likely outcome at +300. The second most likely outcome of the series is a Raptors win in five games, at +400, followed by a Sixers win in six, at +450.

The Sixers are now 20/1 to win the title, so a $100 bet would return a total of $2,100 for you to celebrate with as the Sixers parade down Broad Street.

Now, there are a few things to consider. First of all, there’s homecourt advantage. The Raptors have it and they were 32-9 at home this season. Typically, you’d then look at the head-to-head matchup for clues, but in this case, it feels irrelevant. 

The Raptors won the season series 3-1, but a deeper look would remind you that the Sixers' victory came against a Raptors team without their best player, Kawhi Leonard, and the three Raptors wins came against the Sixers before their trade for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott.

Finally, it’s important to note that the Sixers have never, ever beaten Leonard, dating back 13 meetings over the last eight years.

So, if you like the Raptors, it seems logical to make the bet on DraftKings now before Game One, where they’re favored by five points, and if you like the Sixers, it would make sense to wait and make your wager on FanDuel. While the series odds are not out yet on FanDuel, the Sixers are 26/1 to win the title on there as opposed to 20/1 on DraftKings. You might be able to get slightly better odds on the Sixers on there once the series odds are posted.

Either way, we expect a physical, fiery series between two teams who made upgrades for this kind of opportunity to advance in the playoffs.

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Sixers-Raptors second-round NBA playoff series starts with Game 1 Saturday

Sixers-Raptors second-round NBA playoff series starts with Game 1 Saturday

We already knew the opponent and now we know when the series will begin.

After dispatching of the Brooklyn Nets in five games, the Sixers will take on the Raptors for Game 1 in Toronto on Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. or 8 on TNT. 

The Sixers will play at 7:30 p.m. if the Spurs-Nuggets series goes to a Game 7 (Spurs-Nuggets would be at 10). If there's no Game 7 in that Spurs-Nuggets series, the Sixers will play at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Down 3-2, the Spurs host the Nuggets in Game 6 on Thursday night at 8 p.m., so we'll know after that game what time the Sixers' game on Saturday will begin. 

Here are the schedule details released by the league:

• Game 1, at Raptors — Saturday, April 27, TBD, TNT
• Game 2, at Raptors — Monday, April 29, TBD, TNT
• Game 3, vs. Raptors — Thursday, May 2, 8 p.m., ESPN
• Game 4, vs. Raptors — Sunday, May 5, 3:30 p.m., ABC
• *Game 5, at Raptors — Tuesday, May 7, TBD, TNT
• *Game 6, vs. Raptors — Thursday, May 9, TBD, ESPN
• *Game 7, at Raptors — Sunday, May 12, TBD, TNT

*if necessary

Scotiabank Arena has been a house of horrors for the Sixers. They’ve lost 13 straight there. Their last win came on Nov. 10, 2012, with Lavoy Allen in the starting lineup. Kawhi Leonard has also never lost to the Sixers in his NBA career, going a perfect 13-0. It's fair to note that a lot of that damage was done during The Process and that Toronto has yet to see "Sixers 3.0" this season.

Games 1 and 2 will be at the Scotiabank Arena, before coming to the Wells Fargo Center for Games 3 and 4. Games 5 and 7 would be at Scotiabank Arena and Game 6 would be at the Wells Fargo Center, if necessary. 

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