Brett Brown on Embiid: ‘He is our Crown Jewel’
Joel Embiid had 33 points on 9-of-18 from the field and 12-of-13 from the line and grabbed 10 rebounds, three assists, five blocks and three 3-pointers in just 28 minutes. during a 116-95 win over the Raptors in Game 3 on Thursday.
While those numbers pop off the page, it was Embiid's effort on the defensive end that could have the Sixers thinking big. He set the tone right away with a massive block early in the game, showing no ill-effects from the illness that slowed him down in Game 2.
"He played great," said Raptors star Kawhi Leonard. "He made his presence [felt], got to the free-throw line, hit some big threes, had five blocks tonight. You know, he did his job."
Embiid then showed his offensive repertoire and versatility, catching and shooting from three-point range, nailing a top-of-the-key three. Add in a wind-mill dunk and a variety of other nifty post moves and moments and it was a game for the ages for Embiid.
"I mean for me it goes straight to the blocks," Sixers head coach Brett Brown told reporters when asked what stood out about Embiid's performance.
"You know, we can talk about a windmill dunk. You can talk about some finesse post moves and that. But I go to defense. That’s what interests me the most to date with this series. When we talk about whatever we’re going to talk about, my mind goes straight there. He is our crown jewel defensively, and I suppose offensively, too. But certainly defensively. And his rim protection and blocking shot ability tonight stood out as much to me as anything in an incredible performance."
After the game was over, a reporter asked Sixers head coach Joel Embiid if he felt when Embiid plays like he did on Thursday night, if he is the best player in the series, better than Kawhi Leonard.
When Joel is right physically do you feel you have the best player in the series, the reporter asked.
"Yes," Brown answered.
The difference in Embiid's impact on offense was obvious, but it was his dominance on defense that had coach Brown talking after the game. Toronto shot just 3-10 when defender by Embiid in Game 3 and overall in the series they are shooting just 13-39 in the series against him.
"The 76ers will play in the NBA Finals, they'll win the east," said ESPN basketball analyst Sean Farham on ESPN's Get Up! this morning. He's that good."
Since 1984, no player that has placed less than 30 minutes in any game has been able to post the numbers Embiid did on Thursday night.
History shows that the 76ers win in Game 3 was a significant one, according to ESPN stats and information, 74-percent of teams to win Game 3 of a best-of-seven series that was tied 1-1 have gone on to win the series.
Overall, the 76ers have a 14-6 record all-time when leading 2-1 in a best-of-seven series no matter how it reached that point.
But in Embiid plays like he did in Game 3 the rest of the series, those numbers could prove to be true.