Rivers on Embiid: ‘I don’t think he gets enough credit how good of a defensive player he is’

The Philadelphia 76ers got a big boost Friday night when their All-Star and probably soon-to-be league MVP Joel Embiid returned after missing the for two games of their second round series against the Miami Heat with a broken orbital bone and concussion. 

Embiid did his job on the offensive end as he had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and he also anchored a defense that held Miami to 79 points as Philly defeated the Heat 99-79 at Wells Fargo Center. 

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Miami still leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday night in Philly.

According to StatHead, this marked the first time since the 2012 postseason where Philly has held an opponent to fewer than 80 points.

After the win, head coach Doc Rivers discussed the presence of Embiid.

I mean, just his presence, obviously, to start the game,” Rivers said. “His energy, his rebounding. His ability at the basket. I’ve said it all year; you could see his timing was off a little bit. But his presence defensively, I really don’t – I don’t think he gets enough credit how good of a defensive player he is and how much he helps us. And I thought tonight; it was a lot of that.”

According to Embiid, he did not have a lot of energy, but he was pleased with what he did defensively.

 “I didn’t think I had a lot of energy, honestly,” Embiid said. “I was really trying to really get through it. Kind of, you just use my presence out there as a decoy. I feel like I pride myself really defensively. And I feel like that’s where my presence is really felt. On the defensive end. So that’s one of the main reasons why playing I thought I could have a huge impact.”

Embiid, who stayed back in Philly for Games 1 & 2, had a hard time watching his team struggle in Miami. 

“It was very annoying just watching,” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t make shots, but we also made a lot of mistakes. Whether it was offensive rebounding or turnovers. Their big fella, Bam [Adebayo], was dominating. And I was really pissed off watching another big man play well against my team. It’s unfortunate. Can’t take it back. Now we’ve just got to focus on the next game.”

Role players play better at home, and Danny Green played his role and then some as he had a team-high tying 21 points, including a playoff career-high seven threes. 

In the first two games of this series, Green was 2-14 from deep, but that all changed Friday night. However, he’s not satisfied.

“It felt good to be able to help my team and do my job, that’s it,” Green said. “I’m not in any way, shape, or form satisfied; we are not taking any deep breaths or exhaling; we know we have to win another game, so we have to stay locked in and focused, taking it one game at a time, hopefully, we can keep that momentum and have another decent shooting night on Sunday.”

After going scoreless in the first half, Maxey went off in the second half as he had 21 points, including 14 points in the fourth.

“I just started being aggressive,’ Maxey said. “I kind of was, you know, let the game come to me a little bit. Got the Big Fella [Joel Embiid] back. James [Harden] was attacking and doing a really good job of that. And, I don’t really have to force anything. It’s kind of get it where I can fit in at, and when it’s time to make some big shots, I’m gonna try to make some big shots.”

The 76ers have a chance in this series as long as Embiid is on the court, and while he was not at his best, he was good enough. Can we expect Miami to shoot 35% from the floor and go 7/30 downtown in Game 4? Probably not. However, in his second game back, Embiid might be better, and the 76ers, who had 19 turnovers in Game 3, could be better on offense as well.

If Philly wants to make it a series, they have to win Game 4, and we’ll see if they can make that happen on Sunday.

Notes:

For the Heat, Jimmy Butler scored a game-best 33 points to go along with nine rebounds and two steals.

Back to Danny Green. he joins former 76er Seth Curry(who was in attendance Friday night) and Hall of Famer Allen Iverson as the only players in team history with at least seven made three-pointers in a playoff game (Stathead).

James Harden had 17 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. He also had seven turnovers. 

As a team, Philadelphia shot well from beyond the arc(16-33 (.485).

Kings’ Haliburton showed out against 76ers

Over the past few weeks, Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton has been linked to the Philadelphia 76ers in trade talks surrounding Ben Simmons. However, according to reports, the Kings ended discussions with the 76ers.

If Philly fans and maybe even Daryl Morey had any doubts about Haliburton, that might have been put to rest Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center. 

Haliburton scored a career-high 38 points (11-19 FG, 5-9 3FG, 11-12 FT) to go along with game-high-tying seven assists. Haliburton scored the final 14 points for the Kings, but they would fall short when Harrison Barnes missed a three at the buzzer as the 76ers defeated Sacramento 103-101.

76ers F Danny Green was impressed by what he saw from the 21-year-old Haliburton.

“Woo! I think that describes enough of it right there,” Green, who scored 11 points off the bench, said postgame. “That side-step, step back fadeaway over the backboard in the corner, I thought that was, for sure, gonna come off hard. It didn’t touch anything but the net, and that kind of shows the night he [Tyrese Haliburton] had. He was getting the free-throw line a lot, though. He was very active; he was getting to the paint. He made some adjustments. But the fact that he was getting downhill and getting to his floater opened up the game a lot for him and them. So, we tried to get him off the free-throw line, but when he started hitting the three-ball, he had a good rhythm. He kept them in the game.”

Kings head coach Alvin Gentry added on Haliburton:  “Well, you know, I think he’s progressing every day from the standpoint of getting better, learning more… just doing the things that he needs to do to show improvement and stuff. I was happy with his game, very happy.”

Haliburton has struggled in the past two games, where he combined for 18 points, and while he was happy to break out, he does not want to get too high or too low.

“I’m just learning every night, through the good and bad. Obviously, last two games, I’ve been awful,” Haliburton said. “Tonight, I was pretty good, but you know, just not getting too high, not getting too low, it’s the NBA, it’s 82 games, it’s a grind, and you’re really going to mess yourself up mentally if every time you’re playing well you get too high and every time you are playing bad you get too low so for me, I’m just trying to stay even keel, stay mellow and just come to work every day and be ready to compete and I think tonight obviously I played pretty well, but I think that the guys around me put me in a position to succeed so just keep going from there.”

Haliburton has a ton of talent; he might be a guy the Kings make untouchable in any trade talks and use as a building block going forward. However, he sure made an impression on the Philly fans Saturday night. 

 

 

Wizards’ Beal on Embiid: ‘He’s a special talent’

The Washington Wizards had no answer for Joel Embiid in Game 3 of their first-round series on Saturday night; the MVP finalist shot 14/18 from the field, including 3/4 from three-point range to score a playoff career-high 36 points in 28 minutes of action as the 76ers defeated Washington 132-103 on Saturday night at Capital One Arena.

With the victory, Philadelphia takes a commanding 3-0 lead with a chance to sweep the series on Monday night. Every player in Philly’s starting lineup scored in double figures. Tobias Harris had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Danny Green added 15 points, including five threes. 

Philadelphia shot 58% from the field on Saturday night and shot 51% from three-point range(17/33).

Washington cannot do anything to slow Embiid down. The four-time All-star is averaging 29.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in this series. There was a big crowd at Capital One Arena for the first time this season, and at times, you could hear “MVP’ chants for Embiid in D.C.

“I can’t imagine anybody playing better than him,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said about Embiid. “That was MVP-level tonight. Tried different things on him tonight. Good player. He’s definitely a handful.”

Bradley Beal, who had 25 points in Game 3, talked about the greatness of Embiid.

“He’s a special talent,” Beal said. “You gotta respect him and tip your cap to him. Our whole game plan is basically centered around him. He’s a three-level scorer. He can score from outside on the three. He’s not like most bigs in the league; he can put the ball on the floor, shoot 3s, plays like a guard. It’s kind of crazy.”

Russell Westbrook(ankle) was a game-time decision, and to no one’s surprise, the former MVP played in Game 3 and had a triple-double with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.

“I kind of knew after last game he was going to play,” Beal said. “Even if it was for two minutes, he was going to play.”

Now, the Wizards try to avoid the sweep on Monday night, which won’t be easy. Washington has many questions but little to no answers for what Philly is throwing at them. They tried to insert Davis Bertans in the lineup to get more size and shooting, but that did not work as the team shot 8/35 from three-point range. 

Philly is just a bad matchup for Washington. Including the regular season, the 76ers are 6-0 against the Wizards. Even a 60-point outburst from Beal in the regular season was not enough to beat Philadelphia, so it’s going to take an extraordinary performance from a few different players for Washington to get a game in this series.