On Thursday night, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 102-97 to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the first-round series. Joel Embiid, who had been limping throughout the game and may have been fortunate not to have been ejected for kicking a Nets player in the groin area, blocked a potential tying basket with 8.8 seconds left. This allowed the 76ers to win the game.
With just 44 seconds remaining, Tyrese Maxey hit a 3-pointer to break the tie for the 76ers. With a win on Saturday in Brooklyn, the 76ers will have a chance to sweep their way into the second round.
Maxey grabbed control of the offense and scored eight consecutive baskets, converting a five-point deficit into a lead of 99-96 on his 3-pointer. This occurred after James Harden was dismissed in the third quarter for another groin shot, and Embiid did not appear like his typical dominating self.
After making one of his free throws, Spencer Dinwiddie seemed to have a clear shot at the rim for a layup that would have tied the game, but Joel Embiid jumped to his feet and blocked the shot. P.J. Tucker scored one of two free throws to bring the score to 100-97, and the Nets gave the ball back to the other team on their following possession.
The 76ers were led in scoring by Maxey with 25 points and Harden with 21 points. Embiid scored 14 points and ten rebounds while shooting only 5 for 13 from the field.
The Nets have lost nine consecutive playoff games and are in danger of getting swept for the second year. Mikal Bridges had 26 points, and Dinwiddie had 20 points for the Nets in both losses. Cam Johnson tallied 17 points in the scoring column.
Embiid checked out of the game early in the first quarter and went to the locker room for treatment afterward. Later on, he was hobbling and seemed to be in pain.
It may have been a stroke of luck for the 76ers that he was still in the game.
When Nic Claxton stepped over him after he dunked and Joel Embiid fouled him and fell to the floor, Nets fans angrily criticized the decision not to remove him for kicking his leg up into Nic Claxton’s groin in the first quarter. This occurred after Embiid fouled Claxton and collapsed to the ground. Others who were not there in the stadium turned to social media to question why he was not ejected, similar to how Golden State’s Draymond Green was ejected in Game 2 of their series for stomping on Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis. After that, the NBA decided to ban Green for the third game.
In the end, Claxton assessed a technical penalty, and he was kicked out of the game after accumulating a second technical foul in the fourth quarter.
Nevertheless, the verdict went against the 76ers in the third quarter when Harden, while being tightly defended by Royce O’Neale, swung out his arm and smacked the swingman, who then collapsed in agony. The play resulted in a technical foul being called on the 76ers.
The emotional momentum gained by the Nets as a result of Embiid’s flagrant foul helped propel them to a 19-11 lead. However, Philadelphia would return to take the lead 32-28 after the first quarter, expanding their advantage to 51-40 on a 3-pointer made by Maxey with 3:52 remaining in half and maintaining their lead of 11 points into halftime.
But Bridges helped the Nets get off to a fast start in the third quarter, and Johnson’s 13 points were a big reason why the Nets outscored the 76ers by a score of 35-18 and took an 82-76 lead into the fourth quarter.
Tobias Harris contributed 15 points for the 76ers.
Nets: Brooklyn’s most recent triumph in the postseason came in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2021. But Milwaukee came back to win the series and ultimately the NBA championship after that… The Nets’ record against the 76ers in the playoffs at home is now a dismal 0-6. They have a road record of 4-5, with one victory in 2019 and three in 1984, when they shocked the reigning NBA champions in the first round of the playoffs by a score of 3-2.