Joel Embiid drills game winner, 76ers take commanding 3-0 series lead of the Toronto Raptors
Over the years it always seemed like the 76ers lost this type of game, but tonight was different. Joel Embiid took over late in this game and eventually hit a game winning three as a the shot clock expired, leaving just 0.8 seconds on the game clock to silence the hostile Toronto crowd and win game three by a final score of 104-101.
The Sixers didn’t lead in this game until the final seconds, and they spent most of the game fighting against their own mistakes. Philadelphia turned the ball over 22 times tonight and fell behind by as much as 17 points at one point in this game. Despite Toronto’s best effort, the 76ers weathered the storm and took a momentous third game of the series, and historically teams are 143-0 in a series when leading 3-0.
Joel Embiid Gets His Revenge
In the first half, Embiid scored just five points on 2/4 shooting from the field. His quiet play was received by a gracious chant from the classy Toronto faithful, “Fuck Embiid” rained down as the half came to a close, and that was the biggest mistake that they could have made.
Embiid followed up that half with 28 points in the final two quarters and overtime where he eventually closed out the game with a vengeful fade away three from the wing. The bitching about the free throws clearly had an effect on the officiating, but unsurprisingly Embiid still dominated. He shot 60% from the field and took just nine free throws.
It’s been clear how personal this series has been for Embiid, and the reaction after the game winner proved how much this meant to him. The infamous image of him sobbing on his way out of Scotia Bank Arena a few years ago can be forgotten, and the memory of him drilling a dagger and being embraced by his teammates on his way to sweeping this pathetic Raptors team can take its place.
James Harden Proves He Still Has It
While the rest of the team struggled, team James Harden took control of the offense to keep Philadelphia afloat. The 76ers relied on his scoring in the first half and it allowed him to flourish as a facilitator later in the game. Uncharacteristically, he battled foul trouble in this game and actually fouled out late in the fourth quarter which kept him from making an impact in the waking moments.
Harden finished the game with 19 points and 10 assists, making 7/13 shots from the field and 2/4 from beyond the arc. The criticism of Harden has been the lack of efficiency offensively, but in this game he showed that when it is needed he can provide high quality scoring in tandem with his elite game management.
Tyrese Maxey & Tobias Harris
Tyrese Maxey didn’t have the offensive explosion of the first two games, but his confidence and shot making still stood out in this game. He ended with 19 points and added some late game offense in the fourth quarter and overtime in order to keep Toronto at bay. Even without having an efficient night, Maxey still managed to be the third leading scorer in this game and gave the Sixers a necessary boost.
Tobias Harris didn’t find many shots, going just 4/9 from the field, but he continued his impressive streak on the defensive end. Harris was the primary defender on Pascal Siakam and he held him to just 12 points, forcing him to shoot just 37.5% from the floor. The improvement and commitment on the defensive end has proven to be a valuable asset to this team, regardless of Harris’ scoring.
Sixers Look to Sweep
We haven’t forgotten about all the media members who picked Toronto to win this series, and it seems like the Sixers haven’t either. After hitting one of the biggest shots in his career, Joel Embiid walked over to Drake to let him know that he was “coming for the sweep“, and with this performance it is clear that this team is much more focused in years past.
This series gets a two day break before the potential final game on Saturday at 2 pm. The Raptors are looking to keep their season alive, but I would venture to guess that regardless of the outcome this weekend it is unlikely that the 76ers make another trip back to Toronto.
Mandatory Credit: Barstool Philly