Joel Embiid, limping the entire game and perhaps lucky not to be ejected for kicking a Nets player in the groin area, blocked a potential tying basket with 8.8 seconds remaining and the Philadelphia 76ers took the lead on Thursday night. Took 3 by defeating Brooklyn 102-97. -0 lead in first round series.
Tyrese Maxi made the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 44 seconds left for the 76ers, who can advance to the second round with a win in Brooklyn on Saturday.
James Harden was ejected for another groin shot in the third quarter and Embiid didn’t look like his usual impressive self, Maxi took over on offense and scored eight straight points, cutting a five-point deficit to 3. Converted into a 99-96 lead. Pointer.
Spencer Dinwiddie made a free throw, then appeared to be on his way to the basket for a tying layup before Embiid rose up and swat it. PJ Tucker made the free throw to make it 100–97, and the Nets converted on their next possession.
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Maxi scored 25 points and Harden scored 21 points for the 76ers. Embiid went 5 for 13 but had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Mikal Bridges scored 26 points and Dinwiddie had 20 for the Nets, who have lost nine straight playoff games and are on the verge of being swept out for the second straight year. Cam Johnson scored 17 points.
Embiid went to the locker room for treatment after being checked out in the first quarter, then limping several times afterwards.
The 76ers must have been lucky that he was still in the game at the time.
Nets fans loudly condemned the decision not to eject Nick Claxton for kicking him in the groin in the first quarter, and those not in the arena took to social media to ask why he He was not, as Golden State’s Draymond Green was the go-to forward. Domantas Sabonis of Sacramento in Game 2 of their series. Green was suspended by the NBA for Game 3.
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But in the third quarter the verdict went against the 76ers when Harden, while closely guarded by Royce O’Neal, stuck out his arm and hit the swingman, who fell to the court in pain.
The Nets went on a 19–11 run, emotionally heightened after Embiid’s flagrant foul. But Philadelphia would recover after one to lead 32–28, extending the lead to 51–40 on Maxi’s 3-pointer with 3:52 left in the half, and the lead remained 11 at the break.
But Bridges got the Nets off to a fast start in the third and Johnson scored 13 points as the Nets outscored the 76ers 35–18 in the third to take an 82–76 lead going into the fourth.
76ers: Tobias Harris scored 15 points.
Nets: Brooklyn’s last playoff win was Game 5 of the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals before Milwaukee rallied to win the series and eventual NBA title. … The Nets fell to 0-6 versus the 76ers at home in the playoffs. They are 4-5 on the road, with one win in 2019 and three wins in 1984, when they swept the reigning NBA champions 3-2 in the first round.
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76ers coach Doc Rivers was answering a question about how the Nets were defending Harden when he revealed something that caused some consternation in the room.
Rivers said, “I don’t want to say I’m campaigning, but I am.” “James and Joel lead the league in missed calls, as far as fouls go. They’re the most fouled, and this ain’t a Sixers stat. I’m just sayin’.”
When asked for more details about this situation, Rivers would only reply: “I would just say that it is a situation that we know is out there.”