Instant Observations: 76ers Defeat Knicks in Game 3 Behind Embiid’s Postseason Career-High 50 Points

Instant Observations: 76ers Defeat Knicks in Game 3 Behind Embiid’s Postseason Career-High 50 Points Apr 25, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) dribbles against the New York Knicks during the second half of game three of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Embiid scored a postseason career-high 50 points to power the Philadelphia 76ers to a 125-114 win over the New York Knicks in Game 3. The Sixers are now in the win column in their first round series against New York, although they are still down 2-1.

Tyrese Maxey finished with 25 points, four rebounds, seven assists and two steals. The Sixers shot 48.4% from beyond the arc. Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise) was the lone player out for Philadelphia. De’Anthony Melton was available after missing time with a back injury, but he did not see any time on the floor.

Jalen Brunson totaled 39 points and 13 assists for the Knicks. Josh Hart finished with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists. Julius Randle (right shoulder surgery) remained out for New York.

Game 4 of the series tips off on Sunday at 1 p.m. Here are some instant observations from the crucial Game 3 victory for the Sixers:


– Embiid got off to a rocky start, getting called for a Flagrant 1 foul when, after being knocked to the floor, he grabbed Mitchell Robinson’s leg. It was a dangerous play, and Embiid is fortunate he was not ejected for it. He battled through foul trouble, picking up his third foul with 6:27 remaining in the first half. Head coach Nick Nurse trusted him to play through it, leaving him in the game for the remainder of the half. Embiid’s numbers at halftime, 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting were fine on paper. However, he was trying too much to draw fouls and lost his composure at times.

Embiid played at a completely different level in the second half. He slowed his pace and attacked mismatches on the perimeter, using a couple mid-range shots to get into a rhythm. The big fella then exploded offensively, particularly from beyond the arc. He knocked down four 3-pointers in the third quarter, making them regardless of the defense in front of him.

The Sixers scored 43 points in the third quarter, with Embiid serving as the catalyst for the team’s best offensive quarter of the postseason.

Embiid’s incredible night then extended into the fourth quarter. While he took just two shots in the final frame, he made his presence felt through getting to the free-throw line. The Knicks started throwing a ton of bodies at him from all angles in an attempt to deny Embiid any one-on-one matchups. Embiid did a good job reading the floor, attacking the rim and using his physicality to earn consistent trips to the line.

While it is just one game, this is easily the best postseason performance of Embiid’s career. He scored a postseason career-high 50 points, putting the Sixers’ offense on his back. With their season effectively on the line (they were not likely to come back from a 3-0 deficit), Embiid produced a masterclass performance to keep the Sixers’ hopes alive.

– Maxey had a quiet first half, shooting just 3 of 10. The Knicks had OG Anunoby trailing him all over the floor, preventing Maxey from getting space to drive downhill. However, it was a completely different story in the second half. Maxey used a steal and dunk in transition to generate some momentum. He then hit a pair of step-back 3-pointers, including one over a strong contest from Isaiah Hartenstein. Between Maxey and Embiid’s dominant play in the third quarter, the Sixers were able to flip the momentum of the game in their direction.

– The Sixers desperately needed an offensive boost from any of their role players in this series. In Game 3, Cam Payne stepped up and provided some crucial scoring off the bench. He made a pair of 3-pointers immediately upon checking into the game at the beginning of the second quarter.

In addition to his outside shooting, Payne also effectively ran the pick-and-roll with Embiid. Hartenstein was in foul trouble and Robinson was hobbled physically, eventually exiting the game with a left ankle sprain. Payne took advantage, attacking inside and making multiple positive plays for the Sixers’ offense.

The energy Payne provided off the bench was crucial. It was made all the more impressive due to his inconsistent minutes in this series coming into Game 3. He played a combined three minutes through the first two games of the series. His lack of prior action in this series did not matter. With Buddy Hield once again failing to produce, Payne took his minutes and ran with them. Payne finished with 11 points, one rebound, three assists and two blocks in 16 minutes.

Kelly Oubre Jr. was having a huge series defensively, playing a role in slowing Brunson down. However, he had provided little to nothing offensively in Games 1 and 2. That changed on Thursday, when Oubre got into an early roll by making a driving dunk with Donte DiVincenzo on his hip. Oubre had found a rhythm offensively in the final months of the regular season, and he seemed to recover it after a poor showing early in the series. He finished with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.

– Both of the Sixers’ veteran players quietly made positive impacts in Game 3. Kyle Lowry did a bit of everything, totaling nine points, two rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block. Nic Batum closed the game over Tobias Harris and made a tremendous block from behind on a Hartenstein dunk attempt in the final minutes.


– Everyone in Philadelphia should be used to poor Harris playoff performances by this point in his Sixers tenure. He did not provide much for the Sixers on Thursday, missing open 3-pointers and not executing on defensive rotations. Even when he makes a good play, such as grabbing an offensive rebound, he proceeds to blow the layup. File this contest into the large folder of ugly Harris postseason showings.

– It was only a matter of time until Brunson was going to find his rhythm in this series. After playing excellent team defense against him in Games 1 and 2, the Sixers slipped a bit on that front in Game 3. There were a couple missed rotations, miscommunications and poor navigation on screens. Brunson also made multiple high-difficulty shots, although it was not enough to power New York to the win.

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