Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid’s crucial block with 8.8 seconds left to play brought the Sixers one step closer to the second round of the NBA playoffs as they beat the Brooklyn Nets 102-97 on Thursday night. Philly is taking a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Embiid had a tough night, dealing with his limp but needed to stay on the court. Nevertheless, with 44 seconds left for the 76ers, Tyrese Maxey took over the offense. He scored eight straight points to turn a five-point disadvantage into a 99-96 lead on his 3-pointer, giving Philadelphia the lead.
“Tonight, when our ball handler, our leader, went out, take that role in the fourth quarter and help us get into our stuff, help us win the game,” Maxey said after the game.
After making his free throw, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie attempted a tying layup, but Embiid managed to block his shot. P.J. Tucker then made a free throw to bring the score to 100-97, and the Nets lost possession on their subsequent attempt.
Maxey finished Game 3 as the top scorer for the Sixers with 25 points, and Harden contributed 21. Although Embiid had an underwhelming shooting percentage of 5 for 13, he still managed to score 14 points and grab 10 rebounds.
On the other hand, Brooklyn couldn’t avoid their fourth losses in arrow against Philadelphia so far despite the efforts of Mikal Bridges and Dinwiddie, who scored 26 and 20 points, respectively. Cam Johnson also contributed with 17 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the 76ers’ strong performance.
The Sixers’ 3-0 lead over the Nets is significant for NBA fans and raises questions about the future of both teams in the postseason.
Embiid’s controversial kick raises questions on NBA’s consistency
Embiid’s block on Dinwiddie’s potential tying shot highlights the game’s intensity and the importance of each play in the playoffs. But the incident where the center kicked the Nets player, Nic Claxton, in the groin area and was not ejected sparked fan controversy. It raised questions about the consistency of the NBA’s disciplinary measures. Meanwhile, Claxton was the one who later was ejected for picking up his second technical foul in the fourth quarter.
Nets fans booed the decision and caused a stir on social media. Some questioned why Embiid wasn’t shown the door as Draymond Green was in Game 2 of the Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors series. The NBA subsequently suspended Green for Game 3.
However, the 76ers didn’t face the same treatment when James Harden, who was under close guard by Royce O’Neale, extended his arm and struck the forward. Regarding this issue, crew chief Tony Brothers explained that Harden’s direct contact to the groin resulted in a flagrant 2 penalty, whereas Embiid’s contact was not deemed flagrant due to the different area of impact.
The Nets had previously raced to a 19-11 lead following Embiid’s flagrant foul, but Philadelphia recovered quickly to take a 51-40 lead on Maxey’s 3-pointer with 3:52 left in the first half. The Nets responded with a solid third quarter, outscoring the 76ers 35-18 and taking an 82-76 lead into the final quarter.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers made a surprising revelation about how Harden andl Embiid lead the league in missed foul calls.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m campaigning, but I am,” he said. “James and Joel do lead the league in missed calls, as far as fouls. They got fouled the most, and that’s not a Sixers stat, by the way. I’m just saying.”
Rivers declined to provide further details on the specifics but noted that it was not Sixers’ stats.
The Sixers have a chance to sweep the Nets in Game 4 at Barclays Center this Saturday be sure to check out Jay’s Best NBA Pick for the game!.