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Sixers survive poor 4th quarter and take tiebreaker over Nets on Embiid’s 39

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the Sixers defeated the Brooklyn Nets at home, 123-117.

The Nets were shorthanded, missing not only stars James Harden and Kevin Durant, but recent acquisitions Lamarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin.

The Sixers were without backup center Dwight Howard, who missed the game due to knee soreness.

Overall, the story of the game was another impressive performance from MVP candidate Joel Embiid. Embiid, despite favoring his recently injured left knee at times in the first half, had 39 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks in the game. Embiid (and I) thought that his night would be finished after the third quarter, with the Sixers up double-digits for much of the final frame. The Nets’ second (and third) stringers mounted a comeback, though, and Embiid and the rest of the Sixers starters needed to re-enter the contest in its waning moments as the visitors shrunk the deficit to 3. Brooklyn was effective in trapping Embiid at the end of the game by using the defender assigned to guard Ben Simmons in the double team. Navigating double teams is something the Sixers will need to be great at come the playoffs.

Elsewhere for the Sixers, Tobias Harris scored an efficient 26 points, Ben Simmons scored 17, and Shake Milton had 15 off the bench. It should be noted that Doc Rivers held Harris out of the final few minutes in the game because he saw Tobias limping, and thought he could get the win without him.

For the Nets, Kyrie Irving shredded the good defense of Simmons and Matisse Thybulle for 37 points.

The victory gives Philadelphia the tiebreaker over the Nets, which could prove massive at the end of the season. It also gave the Sixers sole possession of the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and a one game lead over its adversary.

Next up for the Sixers is another home game versus a title contender, this time the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.