As far as wild finishes go, Wednesday’s game might take the cake.
Joel Embiid’s three with 0.8 seconds left in overtime – with James Harden fouled out – gave the Sixers a 104-101 win over the Raptors at ScotiaBank Arena. The Sixers now take a commanding 3-0 series lead with a chance to end Toronto’s season on Saturday afternoon.
A buzzer-beating shot in Toronto in the postseason? How serendipitous. Demons exorcized.
Let’s recap an absolutely bonkers game.
- It should come as no surprise that the Raptors came out with their collective hair on fire. Joel Embiid turned it over on his first touch and Tyrese Maxey had a turnover a couple possessions later. Taking care of the basketball is what’s helped the Sixers cruise to a 2-0 series lead.
- This is where James Harden is so valuable compared to having a non-traditional point guard in the past. He really settled things down. Toronto scored the first six points of the game before Harden hit a three and then drew a couple fouls.
- The Raptors have not been as smothering on Embiid and it’s almost like he’s not used to it. Two early turnovers.
- Man, Raptors fans are down bad. A loud “F— Embiid” chant breaks out late in the first quarter … because pissing Embiid off worked out super well for them in Game 2.
- Excellent ball movement now that the Sixers are settling in. Those corners are open all night. Sixers shooters just need to keep firing.
- Sixers up to six turnovers already. That’s the biggest reason they find themselves down 23-15.
- A brutal first quarter from the Sixers. Nine turnovers, four from Embiid. The Raptors don’t appear to be doing anything crazy – if anything it feels like the extra defenders have come to Embiid late instead of early. Between the turnovers and three offensive rebounds, Toronto took eight more shots. The looks are there as the Sixers hit 5 of 9 from three. They just need to take care of the basketball. They trail 29-19 – it would’ve been 31, but embiid closed the quarter with an emphatic block of an OG Anunoby layup attempt at the buzzer.
- Good for Nick Nurse. Lots of fouls being called on the Sixers.
- Now the Raptors can’t miss. Pascal Siakam getting going as Toronto starts the third on a 9-2 run to extend its lead to 38-21. Sixers really need to wake up here.
- Sixers going zone. First possession, Paul Reed strips Siakam and it leads to a Maxey fast-break layup. We’ll see if it remains a viable option.
- The Sixers do get some help from the officials as Embiid was chasing down a loose ball and then was gently pushed by Fred VanVleet. It’s admittedly a soft foul, but it was called. VanVleet was then assessed a technical for arguing it. Maxey made the free throw and then Harden nailed a step-back three. It winds up being a potentially big four-point possession, which cuts the Raptors’ lead from 17 to eight, 45-37. Harden with a team-high 10. Man, could they use a big Beard game.
- A great burst from Maxey here late in the second, but Danny Green gets a technical at a really inopportune time. The call was brutal – Green was whistled when it appeared Anunoby had him hooked on a box out – but the veteran wing needs to keep his composure.
- They cut the deficit to as low as six, but the Sixers got a little sloppy down the stretch. After committing 17 turnovers in the first two games combined, the Sixers committed 14 in the first half. Toronto got 11 extra field goal attempts. Harden (12 points, five assists) and Maxey (10 points) paced the Sixers, but Embiid struggled mightily (five points, four turnovers). With all that, the Sixers aren’t in a terrible place, down 56-46 at the half. Still very much in it if they take care of the ball and get a little more from Embiid.
- And a turnover from Tobias Harris on the first possession. Suboptimal. But Harden and Embiid with a couple buckets soon after. Again, both those guys getting going would be huge.
- Embiid buries a three at the top of the key and looks way more engaged to start the second half. He’s up to 12 points. Harden has been getting to the rim pretty consistently and is now up to 16 and six assists. Sixers have cut the halftime lead in half, 62-57, roughly midway through the third. Their best players looking like their best players has been helpful.
- Pardon my language, but holy shit, Joel Embiid. A Harden-Embiid pick-and-roll leads to a monstrous dunk to cut the deficit to three.
A couple plays later, he scored again on a roll for an and one. The Sixers are down just one, 64-63. Embiid appears to have his right thumb taped up and is favoring it a little, but he looks like a different player in the second half.
- The Raptors now going zone and the Sixers look a little disjointed. Good timeout by Doc Rivers.
- A brutal play from Green as he fouls VanVleet on a very long three. Green was not thrilled with the call (we didn’t get a replay), but that’s basically four points Green has given Toronto in a close game.
- What a mighty impressive quarter from Embiid. He didn’t let the rough first half bleed over into the second, scoring 18 points and getting the Sixers to within one, 75-74, heading into the final frame. This is the difference in Embiid now compared to years past. He’s so special.
- The Raptors are picking on Harden and Reed defensively a little here. Anunoby and Precious Achuiwa are playing a two-man game and getting good looks at the rim. Rivers wisely gets Harris back in there.
- Wow, this is potentially huge – Harden picks up his fifth foul with LOTS of time left (9:13).
- Harris and Maxey giving the Sixers strong minutes here on both ends. We’ve been stuck at 82-80 here for a couple minutes as both teams look a little tight. Another well-timed timeout by the head coach with 6:59 to go, but when will he look to get Harden back in?
- Joel Hans Embiid. This dude is ridiculous. A step-back three ties it up at 87-87. He’s up to a game-high 28 points after recording only five in the first half. And now Harden checks back in.
- Weird night for Green. He misses a bunny that would’ve given the Sixers their first lead. Toronto then gets a three on the other end. The very next possession Green buried a corner three to tie it back up at 90-90. Timeout Raptors with 3:06 left. Hang on, folks – we’re coming in for a landing.
- Anunoby hits a three and then Green commits a brutal turnover under the basket. Achiuwa gets an offensive rebound off an Anunoby miss and the Sixers find themselves down five.
- Maxey hits a lean-in midrange jumper and then a Harden drive leads to a goaltend on Anunoby to make it 95-94 with 1:14 left.
- After a VanVleet missed three, Harden had another strong drive and was rewarded with a whistle. Unfortunately, he split the free throws, leaving the score tied at 95-95 with 49.7 left.
- What a brutal sequence for the Sixers. Achuiwa has the ball with the shot clock running out and Harden fouled him on his way to the basket. Brutal because they bailed out Toronto late in the clock, but even more brutal because Harden fouls out. Wow.
- And Achuiwa misses them both! Sixers have a chance to take their first lead with 27.2 seconds left while Harden helplessly watches on the sideline. What a wild, wild game.
- Man, the Sixers were awfully close to finishing this off. Embiid gets a step-back three and, boy, he JUST missed it. Harris was able to rip the offensive rebound down, but couldn’t quite finish the put-back. Overtime with no James Harden is rough.
- Great burst from Maxey to start overtime, giving the Sixers their first lead of the night at 97-95. He scored another on a runner a few minutes later. The moment is absolutely not too big for this kid.
- Just a ridiculous fadeaway from Embiid to put the Sixers up 101-100. Great team defense late, by especially by Embiid and Harris.
- Soft call on Embiid as Anunoby drove to the basket, but Anunoby split the pair, tying the game at 101-101.
- Ugly possession by the Sixers with a chance to win it as Achuiwa pokes the ball away from Embiid VERY late in the shot clock. Rivers gets a timeout with 0.9 left on the shot clock and 2.6 left in OT.
- JOEL. HANS. EMBIID. Embiid hits a three with 0.8 second left in the game to put the Sixers up 104-101.
That’s a pretty big “f— you” to the classy fans in Toronto. Embiid with 33 points, 28 in the second half. This guy probably isn’t going to win MVP, but he sure as hell looks like the best player on the planet.