We’ve got a battle between two teams that have not lived up to expectations this season. The Philadelphia 76ers host the Atlanta Hawks in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference SemiFinals.
At the moment, neither one of these teams look like they have a chance of repeating last year’s success although Atlanta showed us that it is possible. Let’s break down this matchup to see if we can cash tonight. Read on to check the NBA odds and the best online sportsbook to bet with today.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Thursday, December 23, 2021 – 07:00 PM EST at Wells Fargo Center
Hawks Are Not Where They Need to Be
When Nate McMillan took over from Lloyd Pierce last season, this Atlanta Hawks team looked dead in the water. If you would have predicted that they would make a run to the conference finals with the group McMillan inherited, you would probably have been told that you don't know much about basketball.
Well, they proved everyone including me wrong and went on a historic playoff run for this franchise. All of that good work has been undone this season because of one reason; defensive regression.
If you happen to watch the BMR NBA Show (Weekdays at 12:30 E.T on the BMR Youtube Channel), you'll have no doubt heard my Knicks defensive rants. If you haven't, I believe that if the Knicks don't finish in the top 15 in defensive efficiency, they will not make the playoffs.
Well, I'm not going to go as far as that with Atlanta but they will need to improve dramatically as a team in order to achieve their goals. At the moment, they are 26th in defense and that is simply not good enough.
That is why they come into tonight's game as +10 road dogs. They will be without Clint Capela who is out due to health and safety protocols which is a disaster considering he is the only person on the team capable of slowing Joel Embiid down. Even with Capela, you would expect Embiid to be a massive problem for this very underwhelming Atlanta defense.
Sixers Need to Get It Together Fast
The Sixers are underachieving big time and their defense is the main culprit. They started off the season on fire offensively but if you know the makeup of this roster, you had to know that was not sustainable.
Optimists said it was the Ben Simmons effect, meaning his liabilities as an offensive player was holding them back which is very convenient logic. The truth is, he's a 4th quarter/end-of-game liability on offense but in the regular season, you need him.
He's one of the best defensive players in the league, while also being the only person on your roster capable of pushing the pace and getting easy baskets for himself and others. I'm not even saying they need Simmons, what I am saying is they are clearly not better without him so it's time to trade him and get back something in return.
As for tonight, I can't get in the business of laying -10 with this Sixers team. They are not nearly good enough offensively while also being very subpar on the defensive end by their standards. Add to that Atlanta's prolific offense and I would have to take the points with the Hawks if I was picking aside. My NBA pick for this game is actually on the total which is at 208.5.
That is an incredibly low total and I think the Hawks have enough offensive firepower to push this number to something closer to 215 at the very least. Both of these teams are bad on defense and even though I don't all the way trust the Sixers' offense, I do think Embiid could go off which will leave open looks for his shooters.
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