I picked the Atlanta Hawks to beat the Philadelphia 76ers before their second-round series began, but I made that pick on the assumption that Joel Embiid would miss multiple games due to injury. He didn't, and has been spectacular. Now, it's Atlanta that's dealing with a major health problem. De'Andre Hunter is out for the postseason with a knee injury.
Hunter isn't a big name yet, but he's perhaps Atlanta's second-most important player. He was instrumental in slowing down Julius Randle in the first round, and the Hawks have been 14.4 points per 100 possessions better in the postseason with him in the lineup. His loss is critical to the Hawks, but the Vegas lines haven't reflected that. Philadelphia closed Wednesday night at minus-220 to win the series. Assuming Embiid remains healthy, that's excellent value on a team that is going to struggle to replace their best two-way wing. Now, onto Thursday's best bets.
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All lines via William Hill Sportsbook
The Bucks played the Nets twice in Milwaukee in May. James Harden missed both of those games. The Bucks won them both. Yes, they've looked horrendous thus far in this series. They're probably going to lose it in the end. But if this team has any fight left in it whatsoever, we're going to see it now, and for what it's worth, the last time Brooklyn built a 2-0 lead, it lost Game 3 on the road to Boston. Milwaukee still has a shred of hope with Harden out. If the Bucks lose this one? Their season is over. The pick: Bucks -3.5
Game 1 of this series featured 221 total points, but got there despite Mike Conley missing the game, Paul George shooting 4 of 17 from the field and the Jazz missing 21 straight shots in the first quarter. Two of those things are unlikely to repeat themselves, and Conley's return would only further boost the offense in this series. Expect a high-scoring Game 2. The pick: Over 222.5