Sixers take Game 3 behind Joel Embiid’s playoff-career-high 50 points

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, center, goes up for a shot against New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson, right, and Josh Hart during the first half of Game 3 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Thursday night in Philadelphia was a pivotal Game 3 for the Sixers and Knicks after Philly returned home down 2-0 in the series. With a close loss in Game 1 and a controversial ending in Game 2, the 76ers looked to protect homecourt starting tonight.

The Sixers endured a lot in their couple of days in New York and Madison Square Garden. In the first game, Joel Embiid seemed to tweak his left knee again and also appeared to injure his right eye (this hasn’t been confirmed) as well.

In Game 2, Tyrese Maxey had his own rendition of the flu game but it wasn’t enough to capture the win. Up five points with less than 30 seconds left, the Sixers collapsed due to questionable non-calls by the referees. These non-calls were then confirmed by the NBA’s last two-minute report. After a devastating loss like that, the Sixers looked to bounce back.

The Knicks came into Game 3 feeling confident because they haven’t played their best and still are up two games in the series. They may have been handed Game 2, but they have the utmost confidence that their star, Jalen Brunson, will get going.

The Knicks’ role players have led the way thus far, while Brunson has been defended effectively by the likes of Kelly Oubre Jr. and Nico Batum. Could the Knicks’ role players continue to carry them, Thursday would be the night they find out.

Sixers vs. Knicks recap

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, center, goes up for a shot between New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson, right, and Josh Hart during the first half of Game 3 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The first quarter of Game 3 started off wild. With a bunch of Knicks fans in attendance, this game was loud. After every bucket, there was a roar from the crowd, whether they were for the Knicks or the Sixers. Two flagrant fouls against and the referee officiating was the main story of the first quarter. Both Kyle Lowry and Joel Embiid for assessed flagrant fouls for separate incidents. With a first quarter that felt like it took 45 minutes, the Knicks were able to grab the lead and go up 29-27 at the end of the first quarter.

With Buddy Hield being the first guard off the bench and missing his shots, Nick Nurse went to Cam Payne to start the second quarter. He immediately made an impact on offense for the Sixers, who desperately needed some scoring from the bench. Payne came out firing immediately, hitting two open three-pointers, a nice floater, and an assist to Joel Embiid in the pick-and-roll.

His spark wasn’t enough for the Sixers to pull away as the Knicks found a way to stay in the game and keep doing the little things like getting multiple offensive rebounds in one possession. New York took a 58-55 lead into halftime after securing multiple offensive rebounds in their final possession.

The crucial third quarter started with the Sixers getting some stops, leading to fast break or secondary break opportunities early, but the Knicks were able to fight back. With some fluid offense action to start the quarter, Tyrese Maxey decided to put the team on his back offensively. His offensive explosion helped open up Joel Embiid’s game. The Big Fella went on a three-point barrage, hitting four threes in the quarter. Their hot shooting helped build a 13-point lead heading into the fourth.

The fourth quarter started with Embiid on the bench, which the Knicks have won during the series most times. Paul Reed did a solid job of giving Embiid a little bit of rest as the Sixers’ lead ballooned to 15 points. The Knicks continued to do what got them here by clawing and scratching their way back into the game by hitting the glass and pushing in transition when there were opportunities. They were able to cut the lead to seven with just about two minutes to go.

The Sixers were able to make enough plays down the stretch that it didn’t get any closer. Philly earned a tough victory over New York 125-114. The Sixers were led by their two superstars Joel Embiid (50 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists) and Tyrese Maxey (25 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds). The Knicks were paced by Jalen Brunson (39 points and 13 assists).

The Most Improved Player

Sixers 76ers Maxey
Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) shoots against the Utah Jazz during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

After being named the 2024 Kia NBA Most Improved Player of the Year on Tuesday, Tyrese Maxey was awarded his trophy pregame. He received his award to a rousing ovation with the fans showing him the love he deserved. He started the game slow on offense and didn’t get many calls to go his way going to the basket. In the third, he established himself early on, going on a 7-0 personal run to help get the lead after the halftime.

With his offense game going, he was able to get to the basket with his setback three working. This young star has had a phenomenal series thus far, stepping up offensive when needed and with many calls going his way on either end. If the Sixers are going to claw back in this series, they will need him to continue to perform like he has. We know one thing: he isn’t afraid of the moment,


Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, left, reaches for a pass against New York Knicks’ Isaiah Hartenstein during the first half of Game 3 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

After a rough start for the big fella, including three early fouls and a flagrant foul, he went off and will his team to victory. Embiid scored a playoff-career-high 50 points tonight against the Knicks, hitting five three-pointers and knocking down 19 free throws. His heater from three in the third quarter helped continue the spark that Tyrese Maxey started and led to a double-digit lead. He hit one of the tougher three-pointers of his career with Jalen Brunson closing out immediately under him.

In the past, his shaky start could have rattled him and his teammates, but he stuck with it and got it going. He was decisive all night and either shot immediately or drove immediately. He did everything in his power to get a victory tonight, even giving extra effort at the end of the fourth on a 50-50 ball with Hartenstein of the Knicks.

Officiating takes center stage

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Nick Nurse speaks to referee Ben Taylor (46) during the second half of an In-Season Tournament NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

After officiating took center stage Monday night in New York due to a disastrous final two minutes by the referees, it was the talk of the town for the last few days. The NBA made its Last Two Minute report available, showing clear errors made by officials at the end of that one.

With that, the Sixers submitted an official complaint to the league, and many were wondering how this game would be called. With the start of Game 3, the officials again took center stage in the first half, stopping for multiple reviews and questionable calls.

The Sixers will play game 4 in Philadelphia on Sunday at 1 PM.