Prior to Game 3, hopes for a deep playoff run seemed all but lose. However, with the return of Joel Embiid and the fact that the Philadelphia 76ers had a 99-79 win against the top-seeded Miami Heat in Game 3 should breath fresh life into that hope.
The Sixers had control of this game early on and were able to expand that lead in the second half. With the return of Embiid, his presence alone give the 76ers the opportunity to win this series.
The Embiid can help the Philadelphia 76ers turn this series around and deaft the Heat in this matchup.
This win comes with a less than 100.0 percent healthy Embiid who is dealing with a facial fracture and torn thumb ligament. The big man still played excellent defense while ending with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
As this series continues, Embiid should be able to play even better as he continues to heal and gets more use to playing with his “Phantom of the Process” mask. That’s not to say he will get back to his MVP abilities in full force, but he can get close to enough to make a bigger difference than he did in Game 3.
His defense alone makes a big difference. He clogs the lane making it difficult for the Heat to get to the rim. With him as a backline defender, it allows Matisse Thybulle to take more gambles defensively which was a big reason why Philly was able to effectively shot down Tyler Herro who shot 5-15 ending with 14 points.
Embiid also did his job in making Bam Adebayo ineffective on offense. In the first two games of the series, Adebayo had averaged 23.5 points per game, but against Embiid in Game 3 he finished with 9 points.
Embiid has a clear size advantage against Adebayo who’s an undersized big at 6-foot-9. That gives Philly the edge in the interior. In the first two games, Miami was a total of plus-20 in rebounds, but in Game 3 the Sixers were a plus-nine on the boards.
Now if the Sixers are going to win this series, they will have to do in with three straight wins. While they were able to close out the Toronto Raptors away from homecourt, winning a Game 7 in Miami is a lot tougher than winning a Game 5.
The next two of the three games in this series will be in Philadelphia with the lone exception being Game 5. If they can steal Game 5 in Miami, then the Sixers would be up 3-2 in the series if they take care of home court in Game 4. Sealing a series win with a Game 6 victory would be a epic comeback story. It would add to Embiid’s and James Harden’s legacies.
With Embiid back in the lineup, the Philadelphia 76ers a path to not only making this series competitive, but having a chance to actually win it. However, the best bet to do so is to win 3 straight and avoid a Game 7 in Miami.