Playoff Bell Ringer standings:
Tobias Harris - 3
Joel Embiid - 2
Tyrese Maxey - 2
James Harden - 1
Joel Embiid came into the day listed as “out.” Over the course of a very long Friday for Sixer fans, he would first clear concussion protocol, and then later be upgraded to “doubtful” on the injury report.
Once he got the green light from the medical and performance staff, then we heard whether or not he’d play would depended on how comfortable he would feel during warm ups wearing his custom mask. It was at that point you knew the chances were good he’d at least give it a try. The only team who has been able to slow him down all year long has been the Sixers’ own medical team.
On Friday, the aftermath of the concussion, an orbital fracture, and a torn thumb in his shooting hand weren’t enough to keep him out. And his mere presence sent shockwaves through the arena on South Broad.
Let’s get to the Bell Ringer.
Joel Embiid: 18 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal, 8-10 FT
Joel was just 2 of 7 for 7 points by the first half. We’ll be honest, he never looked close to comfortable on either end. But his affect on the game was palpable.
If he didn’t log a single point, he might have a case at tonight’s bell ringer regardless.
The immediate impact of Embiid was seven fold: 1) the Sixers found themselves in the bonus just minutes into this game 2) they could suddenly force tough shots 3) and they actually got some of the rebounds this time 4) he hit a couple shots and 5) his presence in the starting unit fueled the crowd 6) it meant DeAndre Jordan wasn’t starting and 7) Harden had his world-beating pick-and-roll partner back again.
Embiid made us nervous by falling hard, and rubbing that head and eye a couple times. On a few falls, you could tell he was trying to protect his head and face, while also avoiding using his right thumb to brace a fall. It’s all rather scary and I found myself holding my breath as he tumbled multiple times. But in the end, he seemed OK.
Mind you, the last two games the Sixers have won, we learned the next day things were anything but fine. So hold your breath, knock some wood, burn some sage until Game 4. Because wouldn’t you know it, Joel was back and Philly won by 20 points. Guess he might be the MVP or something.
James Harden: 17 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 8-8 FT, 7 turnovers
Harden has had a brutal time with officiating in this series. I felt he got an unfair whistle down in Miami, and he quickly found himself in foul trouble in Game 3 as the series shifted to Philly. Despite a hot start dropping 9 points and two assists, he had to check out with his second foul. And that let the Heat chip away at what had been a 9 point lead. James was productive in his next stint but snagged that dreaded third foul on one of the Heat’s many second chance shots when he caught Butler on the arm.
Beginning to worry about the fouls on both ends of the floor (cause officials seem keen to hit Beard with charges these days) he was a bit out of sorts and the Heat sent blitzers at him from all angles. I think one byproduct of the hamstring issue has been that even his handle appears shaky at times. Normally he has the ball on a string, but he’s a step slow now and defenders are poking the ball away on him.
Still, as hard as we are on him, Harden was a game high +27 for good reason. When he was out there, the Heat just didn’t stand much of a chance. Harden stayed as aggressive as he could and scored or assisted on upwards of 30 points, and he occupied tons of Miami’s attention and that made life easier on everyone else. He deserved credit for getting dirty on the defensive glass too.
Danny Green: a team high 21 points entirely on triples, tying a career high there
Green was just 3 of 16 from the floor and 2 of 14 from distance down in South Beach. It was a breath of fresh air to see him drain 3 of his first 4 tonight good for 9 points by the half. Most of the Sixers didn’t have the range coming out of the half and things got scary as Miami went on an 11-0 run. But Green continued his hot shooting all night long.
Tyrese Maxey: 21 points, 6 assists, 2 steals, 5-6 from three point territory
Maxey got off to a rotten start here by his standards. Rese had zero points, two turnovers and two fouls by the half. It started to feel like the Heat just had his number for a bit. But after intermission he went nuclear. Miami was on this terrifying 20-6 run and Philly couldn’t stay our of their own way, turning it over on one end, then fouling and giving up rebounds on the other.
It started to feel like the Heat were going to steal this one and put the death grip on Philly. But then it was Maxey time.
Young Tyrese drained a long distance triple and then made a steal and finished a full speed layup to stop the bleeding. He hit another clutch bomb when Joel went to the bench after a very long stint to begin the second half. Then another. All of his points came in the second half and the Heat eventually toppled over.
Who is the Friday night bell ringer?
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