As the 76ers second round series moved to Philadelphia, Joel Embiid and his crotch chopping ways returned to the lineup for Game 3. The Sixers knocked off the Heat 99-79 in a defensive slugfest bringing the series to a 2-1 Miami lead.
Danny Green got hot from deep, giving the Sixers a team-high 21 points. After a slow start, Tyrese Maxey took over late with 21 points on 88.3 percent true shooting along with six assists. James Harden got off to a hot start, putting up 17 points along with eight rebounds and six assists, and Embiid would finish with 18 points, 11 rebounds, a block and a steal while being generally dominant on the defensive end. Here are some instant takeaways from game 3.
- It wasn’t much of s surprise to see the Sixers look much more energized from the start of this game than they had in the previous two games. The rim protection was night and day compared to the previous two games, the Sixers held Miami to just 17 first quarter points and 34 first half points.
- The offense was far from perfect at the start. It certainly took some time for the big fella to get back in rhythm after a week without any basketball activities, but they were still able to get persistent pressure on the Heat defense by driving to the basket. Despite concerns about his conditioning before the game, Embiid’s first quarter shift was about 10 minutes, which is what it normally would be when totally healthy.
- Seven first quarter turnovers, including four (five if you count the first possession of the second quarter) straight to end the quarter, allowed Miami cut the lead to four despite Philly really outplaying the Heat for most of the opening frame. The Sixers also continued to get killed on the offensive glass.
- Since there was some legitimate concern, the backup center minutes returned in full to Paul Reed with Embiid’s availability. While the stretch with Harden and Embiid both on the bench was disastrous, a 9-0 run when Harden checked back into the game put the Sixers back in the driver’s seat.
- It was only a matter of time until the Sixers saw any positive shooting regression in this series. Danny Green’s first half was a big bounce back from his Game 2 performance, going 3-4 from beyond the arc in the first half. Green would have the hot hand all night, finishing with 21 points on 7-9 shooting and led the team in scoring!
- The Sixers offense stalled out with Harden on the bench, and that was especially evident with The Beard having to sit the last two minutes of the half in foul trouble. This problem continued to hamper the Sixers as Harden picked up his fourth foul early in the third.
- After a hot start out of the half that saw the lead jump to 12, Philly’s offense got really sloppy. They struggled to keep care of the basketball with all the traps Miami sent at them, especially with Harden on the bench. Jimmy Butler really became a nuisance in the third, 12 of his game-high 33 came in the period.
- It had started as an off night for Tyrese Maxey, but his five point spurt at the end of the third quarter might have just saved the game. His three stopped a 20-6 Heat run that woke both the Sixers and the crowd back up.
- The Sixers went to Bball Paul a little later than usual in the second half, letting Embiid start the fourth quarter. This adjustment worked out well for Philly, as they were able to push the lead back up to seven during this stretch and Embiid would check back in to an 11 point lead.
- If his third quarter spurt saved the game, his fourth quarter run put it away. Maxey didn’t make a field goal until there was less than three minutes left in the third, but once he did he made sure to leave an impact. His play to run down an almost turn over and jump out of bounds was flat out insane.
- Right at the end of the game, Embiid took a pretty good unintentional whack to the head from Bam Adebayo. He would remain in the game to take his free throws and hopefully nothing serious comes of it.
Sixers get the all important win. Falling 3-0 would have been a death sentence. Now if they win Game 4 it’s all knotted up.