Joel Embiid dominates as 76ers drub Raptors | News Coverage from USA

Joel Embiid dominates as 76ers drub Raptors

PHILADELPHIA — All five Philadelphia starters scored in double figures, led by center Joel Embiid’s team-high 33 points, and the 76ers took a 2-1 series lead with a 116-95 victory against Toronto in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Sixers never trailed, built an 18-point lead in the third quarter, saw it fall to 89-82 at the start of the fourth quarter, but extended it to 110-84 with 5:31 left.

Jimmy Butler (22 points) flirted with at triple-double, Tobias Harris had 13 points, J.J. Redick added 15 and Ben Simmons had 10 points and seven assists.

They combined for 93 of Philadelphia’s 116 points.

Kawhi Leonard continued his stellar playoffs for Toronto with 33 points.

Game 4 is Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) in Philadelphia. Here were the three keys to Philadelphia’s victory:

1. Joel Embiid’s impact: Embiid had his best game of the series. He struggled in Game 1, battled gastroenteritis in Game 2 and was tired of the talk that Raptors center Marc Gasol is an Embiid stopper.

Embiid was 9-for-18 from the field, 3-for-4 on 3-pointers, converted 12-for-13 free throws and had 10 rebounds, five blocks and three assists.

It was the kind of performance the Sixers needed from Embiid.

Embiid also paid tribute to some the league’s great scoring celebrations. After making a 3-pointer, he kept his shooting follow-through pose for an extended time a la Steph Curry, put three fingers to the temple like Carmelo Anthony did and rocked the baby like Russell Westbrook does.

Embiid was certainly in his element. After blocking a Pascal Siakam shot, he got Siakam to commit a flagrant foul.


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2. Sixers getting the best of Jimmy Butler: Butler finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, three steals and a block. That followed up his 30-point, 10-rebound, five-assist effort in Philadelphia’s Game 2 victory.

Beyond his steady offensive production, Butler continues to be a defensive presence. All of his rebounds were on the defensive end, and he took turns guarding multiple Raptors, including Leonard.

That is why the Sixers traded for him earlier this season and why they want to re-sign him in free agency this summer.

3. Raptors’ offensive struggles: Leonard did his thing, Danny Green rediscovered his 3-point shot (13 points) and Siakam had a decent scoring game (20 points). But Kyle Lowry was 2-for-10 from the field and 0-for-4 on 3-pointers, and the Sixers limited Gasol’s offensive impact. He had just seven points.

Toronto’s normally solid bench was 6-for-21 (Fred Van Vleet missed his seven shots), and the Raptors were 6-for-26 on 3-pointers.

Some shots the Raptors missed, but Philadelphia’s defense deserves credit.

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.


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