Joel Embiid couldn’t be contained in a crucial Game 3 win for the Philadelphia 76ers, dominating the paint, draining 3s and capping it off with a windmill dunk.
Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam channeled their inner Michael and Scottie in Game 1, combining for 74 points in Raptors victory. The 76ers closed out a tight Game 2 win behind big plays and clutch shots by James Butler, who led the way with 30 and 10.
With the series knotted up and momentum hanging in the balance, the 76ers held down their home court. Allen Iverson, Meek Mill and the rest of the Philly faithful who packed the Wells Fargo Center loved what they saw in a pivotal Game 3.
The Sixers fed off the home crowd vapors, went into halftime up 11. While Toronto hung around and brought it close at times — driven by Leonard’s quiet 33 points — Philadelphia never left the driver’s seat. Joel Embiid electrified the crowd and put the exclamation point on a blowout with a driving windmill dunk with 5:32 left in the fourth quarter.
Kyle Lowry is overmatched. Sure, maybe the elbow to the junk didn’t help, but Lowry was made into a nonfactor, swallowed by a bigger, faster Jimmy Butler. Toronto looked tentative for the majority of the game, a characteristic of a team run by a struggling point guard.
Much gets made and exaggerated about the Jekyll and Hyde alter-ego of “Playoff Lowry.” But for the Raptors to stand a chance in the series, Lowry needs to step up or Leonard needs to go supernova (which, shouldn’t be ruled out).
Toronto turned over its roster and staff this year in hopes of breaking through in the postseason, but their familiar bugaboo showed up again tonight. Lowry finished with 7 points on 2-of-10 shooting and is averaging 13 points per game in the series.
So much balance, so many power sources. All five of Philadelphia’s starters scored in double digits early into the second half. Having a first option as your fourth option and one of the NBA’s best shooters to round out the five is extremely hard to stop and gives the 76ers ability to stagger its stars.
Game 3’s decisive victory proved why they were wise to swing for the fences by bringing in Butler and Tobias Harris. They have more margin for error than any team, save the Warriors.
Matching that much star power on a given night is near impossible, especially when the energy flows and the crowd gets into it. It’s electric, boogie woogie woogie.
Peak Embiid: Absolute monster. The 76ers big man showed how he’s one of the most dominant players in the entire league. Embiid controlled both sides of the game, finishing with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks in just 28 minutes. Philly’s tower of power went 3-of-4 from downtown and 12-of-13 from the line.
Brett Brown’s chess move in Game 2 of switching Embiid onto Siakam instead of Marc Gasol paid off again. With Embiid working closer to the basket, he provided elite rim protection the entire night. Now it’s time for Nick Nurse to peer at the board and pull something from his bag of tricks as a counter play.