In the most tense game I can remember watching the Philadelphia 76ers play in what feels like forever, the Sixers came out in Game 3 and took the series lead, 2-1 by a score of 128-108. The Miami Heat came out and threw everything they had at the Sixers, but in the end talent won out. The outside shot was falling once again and a certain masked superhero also returned after a three week absence. All in all it was a great win, one that certainly didn’t feel like a twenty point win, but the final score said otherwise.
Joel Embiid’s return didn't get off to the greatest start, at the half he was shooting 2-7 from the field, doing most of his damage from the free throw line. He was obviously still trying to get used to wearing his mask, and by the time the second half came around he was starting to get back to normal. When all was said and done he ended the night with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
The entire night the Heat went back to their Game 2 ways, being pesky all night on defense, trying to play the role of the bully, but the Sixers changed their personalities in this matchup, and they fought back in a big way. Each of Justin Anderson, Ben Simmons and Marco Belinelli received technical fouls for getting in the face of Heat players, and it seemed to give the rest of the team some extra motivation. Besides the technicals the rest of the game was a grind to a stop pace because of the officiating. In the first half there were 31 foul calls between the two teams, the second half moved along a lot smoother, but there were still 25 fouls in that half.
Unlike Game 2, the Sixers got back to their old ways and found the bottom of the net from deep, shooting a very productive 18-34 from deep, highlighted by Marco Belinelli’s 4-8 and Dario Saric’s 4-7. The Sixers weren’t the only team productive from three point land, as the Heat shot 16-33 (48.5%) and were uncharacteristically productive from deep for the second game in a row.
While the final score indicated a blowout victory, the entire game felt the exact opposite. For much of the 48 minutes it was a back and forth battle, and it wasn’t until the final quarter that the Sixers started to pull away. Combine Embiid taking over late in the game with clutch shooting from Saric and Belinelli as well as a workman-like stat line from Ben Simmons (19-12-7), and the Sixers came away with a huge win.
It felt like the Heat gave everything they possibly had in this game, and the Sixers were still able to win by a large margin which is incredibly impressive. Hopefully next game Embiid can stick to one mask instead of three.
Joel Embiid: 23p/7r/4a/3 mask changes
Ben Simmons: 19p/12r/7a
Marco Belinelli: 21p/4r/5a
Dario Saric: 21p/7r/4a
Justin Anderson: 6p/4r/1 (almost) fist fight with future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade
Goran Dragic: 23p/2r/8a
Justice Winslow: 19p/10r/3a
James Johnson 12p/7r/5a
Next game is on Saturday at 2:30 PM in Miami.