The Philadelphia 76ers have had several chances to close out their second-round series against the Atlanta Hawks. They led by 18 points in Game 4 and 26 points in Game 5 … and lost both. Winning either would have ended this series in six. Instead, they'll host Atlanta in a winner-take-all Game 7 on Sunday.
It will be the first Game 7 for most of Atlanta's roster, including Trae Young, whereas Philadelphia's core trio of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris still have the memory of their crushing Game 7 loss to the Toronto Raptors in 2019 fresh in their memories. That game was in the second round as well, and the 76ers surely hope to avenge it with a victory today. But Atlanta won't make things easy on them. They've pushed the 76ers to the brink in this series, and now, our experts think they have a real shot at finishing the job. Check out their picks below for Game 7.
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Game 7: (1) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks
Reiter's take: In for a penny, in for a pound. I've thought at every step of the way Atlanta would pull the upset, and I'm ready to go down with that ship. Yes, there's a ton I love about the Hawks -- Trae Young's inconsistent-but-electric ability to weave offensive magic from nothing, a superb level of depth around him, a vastly improved defense under Nate McMillan and that special feeling of house money when you weren't supposed to make it this far in the first place. But mostly, I doubt the Sixers. I doubt a half-court offense in crunch time with Ben Simmons playing a key role. I doubt Joel Embiid (that 0-for-12 second half, those two missed free throws) down the stretch. And I mostly doubt Doc Rivers at the helm of a game like this win one. Pick: Hawks
Quinn's take: Home teams win almost 80 percent of Game 7s. If you're picking the road team, you'd better have a very compelling reason to do so. If Bogdan Bogdanovic is hobbled or out, I just struggle to see Atlanta generating enough offense to win this one unless Trae Young goes nuclear. He could, but then, so could Joel Embiid, who probably won't shoot 9 of 24 again. He is averaging almost 39 points on over 56 percent shooting at home in this series, so look for him to carry Philadelphia over the finish line. Pick: 76ers
Botkin's take: In the fourth quarter of a Game 7, I trust the team with more reliable ways to create shots. That's the Hawks and Trae Young. Joel Embiid has been a monster at home, and the home team has all the statistical history on its side in Game 7s, but there's something about this Atlanta team. It feels right. Pick: Hawks
Wimbish's take: I trust Philly at home in what should be a down-to-the-wire game. Pick: 76ers
Ward-Henninger's take: They haven't been all that impressive for most of the series, but ultimately I trust the 76ers defense and I trust Joel Embiid. Ben Simmons is what he is, but the Sixers have proven that they're capable of winning games even with subpar offensive efforts from their second All-Star. The wild card is Trae Young, who can transcend even the most stout defense. But he's going to need help, and I'm not sure he'll get enough. Pick: 76ers
Maloney's take: The Sixers are very clearly the better team and have the best player, even if he's less than 100 percent. Honestly they should have won this series a while ago, and I'm not picking against them in Game 7 at home. Pick: 76ers
Herbert's take: Is "I just think they're the better team" a good enough explanation? As erratic as the Sixers have been, I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt at home. The Hawks are obviously capable of pulling this off, but the Bogdanovic injury isn't a small thing. Pick: 76ers