Masked Joel Embiid Returns, 76ers secure much needed victory in Game 3
When Joel Embiid stepped on the court last night at the Wells Fargo Center with his 76ers down 2-0 against the Miami Heat, everything changed. Embiid’s presence alone completely flipped this series on its head, and was the key factor in the Sixers gritty, must-win victory in South Philadelphia, 99-79.
Last night wasn’t a pretty game by any means, but it’s exactly the type of win that the Philadelphia 76ers needed. It was an inspiring performance and a full team effort for the Sixers, with Joel Embiid dropping 18 points and 11 rebounds. Danny Green and Tyrese Maxey each scored 21 points, while James Harden added 17 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
Masked Joel Embiid Returns
After missing the first two games of the series, Joel Embiid made his way back to the court, with a taped up hand and a black protective face mask over his broken face. His presence alone was worth every bit of praise he received from the home crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.
After spending six days without being able to use his phone, let alone pick up a basketball, Embiid battled through 36 minutes of action last night to help the 76ers get a much needed win.
Embiid wasn’t the dominant force that we have all witnessed throughout the season, but with Danny Green, Tyrese Maxey, and James Harden consistently stopped any type of Miami Heat runs, Embiid didn’t have to carry the Sixers. His defensive presence was enough to turn the tides in this series, regardless of how he looks on offense. His ability to defend the pick and roll, switch onto wings, and protect the paint is something the Sixers sorely missed over the first two games of this series.
Bam Adebayo, who everyone wanted to crown as the best big man in the playoffs before Game 3, was limited to 2-of-9 shooting last night, scoring just nine total points, five of which came from the foul line.
Simply having Joel Embiid on the floor makes the Sixers so much more difficult to contain. He did a great job of allowing others to benefit from the attention he gets, and it helped boost the nights of the role players who struggled throughout the first two games of this series.
Last night was a legacy-defining moment in Joel Embiid’s career and the entire city of Philadelphia will never forget what he had to go through over the past week just to get back out on the court to help the 76ers win. To fight through a torn ligament in his thumb, a concussion, and a fractured bone in his face to come out and essentially save the hopes for the 76ers is remarkable.
Tyrese Maxey’s 2nd Half Explosion
Maxey was stifled, frustrated and lost offensively in the first half last night. He struggled to find shots and ultimately ended the first two quarters with nothing on the board.
The second half was a whole different story.
Tyrese Maxey scored all of his 21 points in the second half to power the 76ers to victory. He ended the night with 21 points, six assists, two steals, and five three pointers made.
Maxey has an innate ability to make the big plays, and is completely fearless of any potential consequences. His production didn’t stop on the offense end, as he buckled in defensively as well ending with two steals and arguably the biggest play of the game coming on an effort play by Maxey:
Coming off of two terrible shooting performances, the 76ers finally shot themselves out of the slump. As a team they shot 48% (16/33) from deep led by an incredible performance from Danny Green who notched a new season high with 21 points, knocking down 7-of-8 attempts from beyond the arc.
Six different players on the 76ers knocked down a long range jumper, and having the role players find their stride again should continue with Embiid attracting so much attention in the paint.
76ers Find Defensive Identity
The 76ers held Miami to just 34 points in the first half, their second lowest in a half this season. The Heat managed just 79 total points in this game which is an incredible feat against the number one seed in the conference.
With the anchor of Joel Embiid the attacking points of Miami’s offense were neutralized, specifically in the pick and roll along with offensive rebounding. The entire group expressed serious commitment to the defensive end of the floor, and that concerted effort was the main reason for their win in this game.
This win changes the momentum of this series, and this win makes it very interesting from here. Game 4 is on Sunday at 8 p.m at the Wells Fargo Center, and Philadelphia has a chance to even the series before they return to South Beach.
Mandatory Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images