Joel Embiid never had any doubts about playing Friday night as long as he received medical clearance, writes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Embiid didn’t clear concussion protocol until Friday morning and had to wear a mask to protect his broken orbital bone, but he logged more than 36 minutes as the Sixers picked up their first win in the series with Miami.
“It was a struggle,” Embiid said, “really because of the concussion and dealing with a bunch of symptoms. But I’m glad it went away and I’m glad that I’m back. I really want to win, and I feel like we have a big chance to win it all. Obviously, we got to stay healthy and we all got to play well at the same time. … Down 2-0, I had to do really everything possible to be out there no matter, how much I was feeling. I’m just glad that we got the win.”
Embiid wasn’t dominant on offense, scoring 18 points and making 5-of-12 shots from the field, but he made a bigger difference on defense, providing a mobile rim protector that Philadelphia was lacking in the first two games.
“He’s the anchor, he knows all the coverages, and he’s talking to us,” Tyrese Maxey said. “He’s seven-foot one, he’s a big body down there, it’s hard to go in there and drive into him, and he makes it difficult for the opposing team. We really do appreciate him for that.”
There’s more from Philadelphia:
- The Sixers were fined $50K for failing to follow the league’s reporting rules on injuries, the NBA announced (Twitter link). Embiid was listed as doubtful going into Game 3. The Suns were fined $25K last week for a similar offense involving Devin Booker.
- After turning in a scoreless first half for the first time all season, Maxey responded with a record-setting performance in the second half, notes Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia. He made five shots without a miss, which is the most ever in franchise history for a second half in the postseason.
- Danny Leroux of The Athletic examines the possibilities that James Harden and the Sixers have available for his next contract. Harden holds a $47.4MM player option for next season, and Leroux notes that his best financial option would be to opt in and extend the current deal, giving him potentially $270MM+ over five years. However, there are plenty of other options if Harden is willing to accept less than the maximum.