On Saturday, Joel Embiid could only offer his fellow Philadelphia 76ers players encouragement.
While he was out with an injured right knee and unable to play, the top scorer in the NBA and a contender for MVP still gave a presence for his team.
One of the defenders, Tyrese Maxey, claimed that “it all begins with Joel.” We are grateful to him for wishing us luck before the game and taking the boys under his wing since he is the head of this group. And he must improve his health.
The 76ers gave him plenty of time to do his task.
The Philadelphia 76ers (Sixers) defeated the Brooklyn Nets by a score of 96-88 to finish their season sweep of the series and advance to the second round of the playoffs as the top team. Tobias Harris led the way offensively with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
James Harden contributed 17 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds for the third-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, who will now wait for the winner of the game between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks. At this point in the game, the reigning champion Celtics of the Eastern Conference is up 2-1.
The Philadelphia 76ers have ensured that Joel Embiid will have at least a week to rest and heal before their next game by becoming the first team to win a seven-game series since the Milwaukee Bucks in 1985.
Harden said, “Obviously, it was a significant day for us so that we can get Big Fella well.” “Taking care of it is our priority.”
Without him, the Sixers could capitalize on their defensive strength and outscore the Nets 21-4 during more than eight minutes in the third quarter.
After a productive series, Maxey concluded with 16 points, while Paul Reed contributed 10 points and 15 rebounds after taking Embiid’s place in the starting lineup.
The Nets have now lost ten consecutive playoff games and have been swept for the second year. Spencer Dinwiddie had 20 points, and Nic Claxton had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets in this loss. They were defeated by the 76ers a total of eight times this season.
Embiid went to the locker room early in Game 3 and limped several times later in the game. But, he had a blocked shot at maintaining a two-point lead with 8.8 seconds remaining in the game, and he indicated afterward that he was OK. But, the head coach, Doc Rivers, said that Embiid complained of pain behind his knee and that he already had swelling quickly after the game. An MRI examination was able to identify the sprain.
Dorian Finney-Smith hit a 3-pointer only two minutes into the third quarter, giving the Nets a 53-42 advantage and matching their highest lead. Reed’s goal brought the score to 56-53 and ended the run sparked by Harden and P.J. Tucker by making consecutive three-point shots for the Sixers.
With 1:49 left in half, Maxey hit a 3-pointer to increase their lead to 63-57. This ended the long drought that the Nets had been experiencing, which would have been unfathomable when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving played for the team. They were both traded in the middle of the season. This squad was eliminated exactly as soon as the one the couple led the previous season when Brooklyn was likewise the first team eliminated after being swept by Boston.
According to coach Jacque Vaughn, “I told them that whenever they travel through the borough of Brooklyn, they should feel an overwhelming sense of pride.” Because of how we competed, we didn’t give ourselves any excuses this year. We were able to work out a way to remain a unit. Even after the game was over, everyone in the locker room stayed together.
Embiid finished the series with an average of just 20 points, a significant drop from his league-leading average of 33.1 points per game. The Nets constantly double-teamed him throughout the series.
Nevertheless, those double teams allowed open looks for their guards, which weren’t available on Saturday. As a result, the Sixers shot just 2 for 11 from 3-point range in the first half, and the Nets led 48-40 at the break.
But, the 76ers held them to 40 points in the second half and finally drew away to a 14-point lead as the chants of the Sixers supporters in the arena became louder.
76ers: The eight-game winning run that Philadelphia has put together against Brooklyn in the playoffs is the second-longest against any opponent in franchise history. In the early 1980s, the 76ers won ten consecutive games against the Knicks of New York.
With this loss, the Nets dropped to 0-7 all-time versus the 76ers in playoff play at home. Patty Mills entered the game for the first time in this series and went scoreless in the first five minutes of action. The last postseason game that Brooklyn won was Game 5 of their series versus Milwaukee in the 2021 East semifinals.
Rivers has said that he is not concerned when he observes Embiid seeming to be in pain, as he did at several points during Game 3. His worries started when the medical personnel informed him they wanted to undertake an MRI examination on him.
“As a coach, I despise the sound of that term and those three letters. I mean, because it never turns out well,” Rivers said. “It just seems like that anytime they tell a coach, ‘Hey, we’re going to have an MRI,’ it doesn’t turn out well most of the time, and this one did not,” the commentator said. “That’s just the way it is.”