MIAMI — Here are my main takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 128-108 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
- Joel Embiid dominated both sides of the floor, finishing with a team-high 23 points and a game-high three blocks after missing the Sixers’ past 10 games because of a fractured orbital bone. He made 10 of 15 free throws, the most attempts by a Sixer in his postseason debut since Julius Erving took 16 on April 17, 1977.
- Embiid’s defensive presence was ridiculous. Miami shot 54 percent when he was out of the game and 40 percent when he was on the court.
- Ben Simmons has two double-doubles in his three playoff games. He produced 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists Thursday. The point guard has a total of 60 points, 30 rebounds and 29 assists through the three games. He and Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson are the only players in NBA history to have at least 60 points, 25 rebounds and 25 assists after their first three playoff games.
- Call it the Justin Anderson factor. Unlike in Game 2, the Sixers matched the Heat’s physicality and showed some nastiness. The difference? Aside from Embiid, it was Anderson’s getting his number called in Game 3, after sitting out Game 2. The Sixers need the grit he provides.
- With 21 points Thursday, Dario Saric has scored at least 20 in all three playoff games. He becomes the first Sixer to record at least 20 points in each of his first three playoff games since Erving in 1977.
‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards
- Best performance: This was easy. Embiid took over down the stretch. His personal 7-0 run in the fourth quarter enabled the Sixers to put the game out of reach. He had started slowly on the offensive end, missing his first five shots. However, he made 5 of 6 after that.
- Worst performance: Remember that great performance Dwyane Wade had Monday night? Well, this was the opposite. The future Hall of Famer missed 8 of 10 shots en route to scoring only eight points.
- Best defensive performance: You have to give this to Embiid.
- Worst statistic: Wade’s shooting.
- Best statistic: I have to give this to the Sixers’ making 18 of 34 three-pointers, 52.9 percent. The 18 three-pointers tied the franchise playoff record they had set in Game 1.