- Joel Embiid’s 2019 postseason has been far from perfect. But in Game 3’s victory over the Raptors, Embiid looked every bit the dominating force Sixers fans hoped he would be.
Thursday night was the type of moment Sam Hinkie always dreamed about.
Joel Embiid’s 2019 postseason has been far from perfect. Between left knee tendinitis and gastroenteritis, the big man’s body has tried to betray him in a way Philadelphia fans feared for the last five years.
But in Game 3’s 116-95 victory over the Raptors, Embiid looked every bit the dominating force basketball fans everywhere hoped he would be.
The big night started with the way he controlled the glass. The 76ers have held the edge in rebounding through three games to help take a 2-1 series lead, and Thursday was a perfect example of the impact it has on the game.
Embiid, Ben Simmons and James Ennis III put in work on the offensive boards early to help Philadelphia build an 11-point halftime lead.
In the second half, the Sixers weren’t able to create as many second chances for themselves. But they consistently limited Toronto to one-shot possessions as Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris helped Embiid crash the boards on that end of the floor.
Embiid’s 10 rebounds on the night were a game-high and helped set the tone, but his five blocks brought much more energy to the Philly fans throughout the contest.
He looked to engage the crowd every chance he could. And by the time it got to the fourth quarter, it felt like The Joel Embiid Show.
The defense got the people on their feet, and then monster dunks and knockdown three-point shooting sent them into a frenzy while the Raptors spiraled out of control.
Embiid’s fourth quarter can be summed up by a sequence early on where he nailed a triple, blocked Pascal Siakam, forced a flagrant foul on Siakam, and then blocked him again after Butler extended Philadelphia's lead to 16.
It was an 11-0 run to start the final frame. Embiid brought life in a way only he can, and it also very clearly helped Butler close out the night with some big defensive plays and fast-break buckets.
But before he could call it a night, Embiid needed one more jam to remind everybody why it’s not so crazy to trust The Process.
He finished with 33 points and a plus-31. His 12-of-13 production from the charity stripe helps tell the story of how Embiid keeps defenders off balance with his pump fake and ball moves, and how that leads to easy points. But the important narrative of Thursday was about how Embiid at his best can electrify Philadelphia in a way that hasn’t been done since Allen Iverson.
Embiid’s ability to do the little things like eat up boards and live at the line will always be key in his success. But his absurd energy and game-changing plays are why you have to love the No. 3 pick from the 2014 draft.