Joel Embiid‘s playoff debut was a smashing success for Philadelphia, the All-Star center returned from a 10-game absence by scoring 23 points, including a personal 7-0 run down the stretch that iced the game, leading the Sixers to a 128-108 win over the host Miami Heat Thursday night.
The 76ers outscored the Heat 32-14 in the fourth quarter and took a 2-1 lead in the series, which will resume Saturday at 2:30 p.m. for Game 4 at American Airlines Arena.
Thursday’s game went back and forth through the third quarter. Miami clung to a 64-63 halftime lead and only trailed 96-94 going into the final quarter before Philly blew the doors off the game.
Goran Dragic scored 23 points for Miami, which also got 19 points from Justise Winslow and 14 from Josh Richardson.
Hassan Whiteside was mired in foul trouble and ineffective, finishing the night all of 1 for 1 from the field for five points. Dwyane Wade, who Miami needed to be superb in the win at Philadelphia in Game 2, shot 2 for 10. Wayne Ellington, Miami’s single-season leader in 3-pointers after making a record 227 this season, was 1 for 5 from the floor.
Aside from Embiid, the Sixers got plenty of contributions. Marco Belinelli and Dario Saric each scored 21 for Philadelphia, while and Ben Simmons flirted with a triple-double – finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Game 3 was another street fight, and Philadelphia didn’t back down. Philly won Game 1 by dominating the second half, and Game 3 went a similar way. The 76ers outscored Miami 74-43 in the second half of Game 1, and 65-44 in the second half on Thursday.
“It’s clear that the first game and the third game were played on their terms,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
– Associated Press