Two Games Sixes. Both One-Seeds Facing Elimination. The Underdogs Are On Fire.
It doesn’t get much better than this and our NBA picks have the winner of both clashes for you! We have studied the form, the shooting, the meltdowns and the defenses to predict who comes out on top tonight!
Will Joel Embiid and the Sixers be able to avoid another premature elimination? Can Donovan Mitchell find some more strength to force a game seven for the Jazz? Or are the Hawks and Clippers simply in too good of form to blow tonight’s game at home? Find out below in tonight’s NBA picks.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Atlanta Hawks (Game 6) – 7:30pm EDT
For the second straight game, the Philadelphia 76ers have looked like running away with the victory before crumbling in the second half. After leading by as many as 26 and even by 24 with just minutes left in the third quarter, things went pear shaped for the one-seeded Sixers. This has allowed the Atlanta Hawks to pick up their second straight win, using a 40-19 fourth quarter to get over the line, 109-106.
Trae Young was once again the driving force, scoring a game high 37 points, adding seven assists and three steals, with 23, six and three of those, respectively, coming in the second half. His ability to take control of the game and get whatever looks he wants, for himself or his teammates, has been unrivalled in this series and is a big reason behind why the Hawks have the chance to close out the series tonight.
Players in NBA History to have 20+ PTS & 7+ AST in their 1st 10 career playoff games:
Trae Young pic.twitter.com/aYAiKL0cCV
— Greg Harvey (@BetweenTheNums) June 17, 2021
In what was a quiet night from some of his usual help, with Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Heurter and Clint Capela combining for just 12 points, others had to step up and deliver for Atlanta. John Collins finished with a 19 point, 11 rebound double double while Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams came off the bench to score 16 and 15 respectively.
Atlanta’s bench scored 39 points overall while Philly’s managed just 13 for the game, highlighting the difference in help each team gives its stars, with the Sixers relying on their big guns more than ever. That usually works for them, but when Joel Embiid and Seth Curry were the only Sixers to make a field goal in the entire second half, that is when the wheels fell off.
Tobias Harris, who was considered as a potential All Star and averaged 19.5 points during the regular season, could only muster four points on Wednesday night in what was an extremely disappointing showing. Ben Simmons managed just eight points and only had four field goal attempts, while shooting a dismal 4-14 from the line, almost becoming unplayable, which is a massive fall from grace after being a former number one pick and Rookie of the Year.
The Sixers have been outscored by 26 points in the last two 4th quarters.
Embiid: 1-10 FG
Harris: 0-5 FG
Simmons: 0-0 FG pic.twitter.com/JIQ7Szo0k4
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 17, 2021
Seth Curry finished with a playoff career high 36 points, on a blistering 13-19 shooting from the field and 7-12 from deep, almost single-handedly keeping Philly in it in the second half. Joel Embiid had a team high 37 points, but scored 17 of those in the first quarter, seven in the second and seven in the third. This left just six points in the final period, with the game on the line, as Embiid shot just 1-5 from the field and was unable to help his team hold on.
Wednesday’s game five loss was historic for the Sixers, becoming the first team in the last 25 years to lose back to back games in the playoffs after leading by as many as 18 throughout the game. Further to this, their 22 point halftime margin was the third-largest comeback in NBA postseason history, whilst also being the first time they have ever lost when leading by at least 25 points, winning the previous 165 occasions.
They now have to travel to Atlanta to save their season, facing an elimination game six this evening and there is no indication that they will be able to turn things around. Embiid’s torn meniscus is obviously bothering him late in games, highlighted by his reduced performance after halftime in the last two, and having just one day off won’t change that at all.
However, they led by as many as 26 and only lost by 3, despite their second leading scorer in Harris scoring just four. There is plenty of room for improvement and with his coaching reputation on the line, we expect Doc Rivers to conjure up something that will help Philly extend the series. Atlanta, and Young, have played exceptionally well in the postseason, even more so in the last two games, and won’t go down without a fight, but it won’t be enough in this one.
Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Clippers (Game 6) – 10pm EDT
With the news of Kawhi Leonard being out of game five, the odds and betting shifted in favour of the Utah Jazz but boy did everybody, including us, get a surprise. The Los Angeles Clippers, without their lead, stormed into Vivent Arena, where the Jazz had lost just five times all series, and snatched the 3-2 series lead from Utah.
Despite Utah making an incredible 10 threes in the first quarter, LA trailed by just one point at the first main back, sticking within five at halftime before a third quarter onslaught. Behind some sharpshooting from Paul George and Marcus Morris Sr, the Clippers had a massive 32-18 period, taking the lead and never giving it up, despite Leonard being stuck in LA searching for options on how to fix his knee.
Paul George put up numbers that no other Clipper has in a playoff game:
🔹 37 Pts
🔹 16 Reb
🔹 5 Ast
Came through with no Kawhi, on the road, to take a 3-2 lead. Playoff P. pic.twitter.com/3yZfjcqAid
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 17, 2021
He may have already been ruled out of tonight’s clash, but the Clippers may not need Leonard, as George took full control of the team and led them to victory. Finishing with team highs of 37 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and two blocks, the 7x All Star put the team on his back in what was one of the best performances of his career.
On top of that, Morris and Reggie Jackson combined for 6-12 shooting from deep, scoring 25 and 22 points respectively, giving the Clippers three of the top four scorers for the game. The fourth was Bojan Bogdanovic, who finished with a team high 32 points thanks to nine made threes, six of which came in the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Jazz, after sitting on 17 threes at halftime, they made just three after the main break, unable to connect from deep and keep in contact with LA.
Another reason behind their poor play was Donovan Mitchell, who snapped his streak of 30+ point games at six, finishing with just 21 on 6-19 (31.6%) shooting from the field. He is listed as just questionable for tonight’s clash, along with Mike Conley, but we have to expect that even if they are close to healthy, that Utah will want them on the floor for the elimination game six in LA.
Donovan Mitchell is questionable for tomorrow’s Game 6 with right ankle soreness, the Jazz announced. pic.twitter.com/jfUmeSDH9C
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 18, 2021
Utah will be kicking themselves for letting the Clippers win this game, unable to take advantage of Leonard not playing. Further to this, they actually shot two more free throws for the game, but made two less, going 19-27 compared to LA’s 21-25. Utah were unable to take the game when it was there for the taking but we expect that tonight will see them stay alive in the series.
Similar to the earlier game between the Sixers and Hawks, the one seed is facing elimination on the road with their main star banged up and struggling, but they are the better team and have been all season, so they should be able to get a win on the road. This one will be close and the Jazz will have to work for it, but they should be able to turn it on and hold off elimination, at least for one more game.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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