No Joel Embiid? No problem for the Philadelphia 76ers. Although the presence of their superstar big man could always benefit them, the Sixers fared well without him on Thursday during their Game 3 victory on the road against the Brooklyn Nets. The big stories coming away from the game was the revenge of Ben Simmons, the rise of Tobias Harris, and JJ Redick getting hot once again. However, a critical factor from the Sixers' first road win of the 2019 playoff run was the help from their big-man's backup, Boban Marjanovic.

Although Boban's night ended prematurely on Thursday due to fouling out, his A-plus effort during his 18 minutes on the court was a significant reason why the Sixers were so successful in the absence of Embiid. Sixers' Head Coach Brett Brown found out about Embiid's decision to sit out just 15 minutes before game time. Assuming that Jonah Bolden or even Boban would get the start, Brown shockingly went with Greg Monroe, who just signed with the Sixers a few weeks ago.

Monroe garnered a ton of complaints while on the floor from spectators, but Brett Brown praised him on Friday for his efforts. As everybody focuses on the somewhat, negative night by Monroe though, it would be necessary to point out and appreciate how much of a pleasant surprise Boban Marjanovic has been for the Sixers not only for Game 3 but for the previous two matchups as well.

Game 1 was rough for everybody rocking a Sixers uniform. Nobody could save Philly during that whooping, but Boban still handed in a decent effort with 13 points, four assists, and a block during 15 minutes on the court. Game 2 was a different story for everybody though, Boban included. He knocked down eight of his 14 attempted shots, for a total of 16 points. Despite being a big man, Marjanovic made it very clear that he's going to shoot as long as Brooklyn leaves him open due to a lack of respect for his jumper.

The Nets have acknowledged Boban's progress with his jumper during the series, but it wasn't enough to stop him during his dominant effort in Game 3. Before fouling out, Boban finished the night with 14 points, eight rebounds, a block, and a steal. Boban was a perfect eight-for-eight from the stripe, and a plus-18 when on the court, despite having four turnovers.

Does he deserve to get thrown in the starting lineup as long as Embiid is out? It wouldn't be a bad idea. However, Boban's presence off the bench has been vital for the Sixers throughout these last two victories. At times during the regular season, Boban had his good moments. But there were also times where he was a bit shaky as well. Regardless of what happened in the regular season though, Marjanovic has proven to be a strong presence for the Sixers throughout the start of their playoff run.

Follow Justin on Twitter: @JGrasso_


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