PHILADELPHIA – The Phantom of the Process is back – and, for the Philadelphia 76ers, not a minute soon.
Joel Embiid came back from a week-long absence with a fractured face and was forced to play 36 minutes, earning 18 points and holding 11 rebounds to lead his 76ers to a 99-79 victory over Miami Heat in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference semifinal, pulling Philadelphia back to the line after throwing. two opening games.
“No,” said Embiid, when asked if there was a time when he thought he would never return to the list. “After that, when we realized what had happened, I didn’t think [the possibility of not playing].
“I just figured out what I needed to do to make sure I got back any time on that list, whether it was the First Game or the Two Game or the Three Games or the Fourth Game. It was possible to try to get back.”
Embiid spent the past few days battling the aftermath of an argument he first encountered when he was hit in the neck by Raptors player Pascal Siakam in a Philadelphia victory over Toronto in Game 6 of their series last week.
He was eventually sacked from the league on Thursday, but said he needed to see how he reacted to Thursday’s performance before deciding if he could play.
Eventually, he was announced as one of the first to go to court to exercise for about 45 minutes before giving a tip – which he passed wearing a mask that he would need to wear during the game.
“I can only imagine how difficult it can be,” said James Harden, who had 17 points and six assistants in 38 minutes.
“But it was game time. It was a great time. It’s the playoffs. Joel knew how we wanted him, and he gave up. His control over all aspects of football is very important to the team, and very important to the team.
“That’s why it’s MVP and we failed and we have to keep pushing.”
Before the game, 76ers coach Doc Rivers said he was not sure if Embiid could reduce his minutes due to the lack of time he was able to spend last week when he faced the problem.
In the end, Embiid was able to play 36 minutes – plus the first 15 minutes of the second half, after forcing Rivers to shut him down to start the fourth quarter in Miami after cutting Philadelphia’s lead to 3.
Afterwards, Embiid admitted that he was struggling with how he played the game for a long time, and said he thought it would be better when things were briefly discussed here Sunday night at Game 4.
“I didn’t think I had a lot of power, honestly,” Embiid said. “I was really trying, you know, to get through, and I just used my presence as a deception.
“What I’m proud of is self-defense and I feel that is when, you know, my presence makes sense in terms of self-defense and that’s the main reason I play I think I could have a big problem.”
Embiid said he was “disappointed” to watch Bam Adebayo knock down the 76ers in Game 1 and 2 as he watched them at home, unable to help. In Game 3, Adebayo – who scored 23.5 points and 10.5 rebounds while scoring 15 for 21 in the first two games – were all eliminated, finishing with nine points, three rebounds and one assist. , picking up five mistakes, in 33 minutes.
“No. [made] great impact, “said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.” This is what you should expect. He is an MVP-caliber player. They are usually in the competition for defensive players of the year. You need to do both.
“We don’t expect it to be easy. He was a very good team all year; so were we. We expect him to be available for the entire series. We just have to think.”
Because Embiid did not speak to reporters after Game 6 and had been out since then, he also spoke, for the first time, of a game in which he was injured. Embiid said he did not believe Siakam, a native of Cameroon, did not hit him intentionally.
He also provided a long and thoughtful response to the interactions between the fans and many players in the modern NBA, as well as hearing the “F — Embiid” songs throughout the series and how the fans reacted to being hit in the face.
“I don’t think it was intentional,” Embiid said. “Then my boy, obviously. It’s a pity. I don’t think he wanted to. But, you know, I was so upset to see that this happened to the fans and I always thought he was interested. Fans, but I changed my mind, you know, fans up there. in the whole series, the songs ‘F —‘ and so on.
“This doesn’t come to me, anyway. I think he was upset because I did a plane festival, but it’s been happening in a few stadiums these days where, fans, it just feels like, it’s better to just say ‘F- – someone.’ There are a bunch of kids in the club, I don’t think this should be good even if there were no kids, but it’s like if you answer it’s like, in Draymond’s case, the league pays you.
“It doesn’t bother me. I’m just saying, really, everyone in the NBA. As I said, if you give up you have to take it too. And I’ve talked about our fans. If the players come back, you have to take it too.”
The presence of Embiid – a term often used by Rivers and Embiid players during their post-game contexts to describe the results – was too much for Heat to take on Game 3, even with the return of Kyle Lowry. After missing the last four games with his injury, Lowry played 25 minutes in his hometown on Friday, missing all four bullets he picked up and went off unmarked as he pulled out three assistants.
“I had a great day of exercise,” Lowry said later. “I just got the song. I did not expect to be amazing tonight. I did not expect to have zero, but try to feel good about the game, stay out there, especially during this difficult time. I wanted to be out there with my team.
“We need to come back and continue preparing for the next game.”
For him, Embiid had the same message for his team.
“We went down 2-1, then we have a long way to go,” he said.
“We can’t go down 3-1. So we need this game on Sunday.”