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Joel Embiid’s playoff career high puts Wizards on brink of elimination

First, the Washington Wizards tried Alex Len, who regarded overmatched. Then, there was Daniel Gafford, the energetic massive who bit on only one too many shot fakes. And lastly, there was Robin Lopez, a artful veteran who nonetheless didn’t make a lot of a distinction.

No matter which one of their bigs was on the courtroom, the Wizards had been unable to cease Joel Embiid. 

The Philadelphia 76ers heart had his finest recreation of the sequence Saturday, dominating because the Wizards now are on the brink of elimination after a 132-103 loss at Capital One Arena. Embiid completed with a playoff career-high 36 factors, sho-oting 77% to go together with his eight rebounds and three blocks.  

Washington trails the best-of-seven sequence 3-0 and Philadelphia can full the sweep Monday, beginning at 7 p.m. 

Truthfully, Embiid has been an issue for Washington over the course of the primary spherical. But Saturday’s efficiency confirmed why Embiid was listed as one of this season’s three MVP candidates. He bullied his means across the rim. He made the Wizards pay together with his jumper, pulling down three of his 4 3-pointers. And regardless of carrying Philadelphia’s offense, Embiid was a game-changer on the defensive finish together with his inside presence.  

Embiid’s dominance got here in simply 28 minutes of recreation time — he sat all the fourth quarter with Philadelphia up by 23 firstly of it.  But when on the ground, he made certain to have his enjoyable. He taunted the gang and embraced the heavy Philadelphia contingent who appeared to make the trek to the District. 

At one level, Embiid acquired MVP chants from the gang — just for them to be dro-wned out with boos. 

“Embiid’s ability to make plays makes the game easy for a lot of their players,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks mentioned. “They’ve obviously got a good team, good players. But I can’t imagine anyone playing better than him — that was MVP level tonight.” 

Regardless, the Wizards are left greedy for solutions. So far, Washington’s changes finally hasn’t affected the underside line: the 76ers are extra gifted. And they’re outplaying Washington.

On Saturday, the Wizards even acquired scoring assist from others outdoors Bradley Beal (25 factors). Russell Westbrook, a game-time choice with an ankle damage, had a team-high 26 factors, his finest output via three video games. Gafford (16 factors) and ahead Rui Hachimura (10 factors) additionally reached double figures. 

But the 76ers dominated. They raced out to a double-digit lead within the first quarter, withstood a Washington run within the second and blew the sport open the remainder of the way in which. Besides Embiid, Philadelphia torched the Wizards from deep — hitting 17 of their 33 3-point makes an attempt. 

Beal mentioned the Wizards weren’t as disciplined as they wanted to be defensively. 

“It was bad, it was horrible,” Beal mentioned. “Danny Green’s a shooter. Seth Curry’s a shooter. … We just didn’t make them dribble. I mean no disrespect to them, but we want them to put the ball on the floor and create plays. But we didn’t make them do that. They literally rose up and shot it over us. They had a lot of open 3s.” 

Desperate to keep away from falling right into a 3-0 gap, Brooks agreed Saturday’s contest can be a “kitchen sink game” — that means the Wizards needed to throw every thing at Philadelphia. Brooks indicated after Wednesday’s Game 2 that lineup modifications could possibly be in retailer, and certain sufficient, there have been some modifications. Most notably, the Wizards opted to start out ahead Davis Bertans over guard Raul Neto.

The pondering behind the swap was for a number of causes, Brooks mentioned. First, the Wizards wanted to do a greater job matching up with Philadelphia’s measurement. The 76ers’ wings — Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris, particularly — managed the matchup by simply attending to the rim. Second, the Wizards wanted an offensive jolt and Brooks hoped that inserting Bertans into the beginning lineup would assist get him off to a quicker begin after going scoreless on Wednesday.

The change, nonetheless, didn’t work as meant. Bertans nonetheless struggled to sho-ot the ball, going 1-of-5 from past the arc. And as a result of Bertans is a defensive legal responsibility, the 76ers exploited his presence on the ground to search out open shooter after open shooter.

The 76ers shot 58.6% in Game 3 — a sequence finest. All 5 of Philadelphia’s starters reached double figures, with Harris (20), Curry (15) and Green (15) main the way in which behind Embiid.

Saturday acquired so ugly for the Wizards that Brooks used his remaining timeout with nonetheless greater than seven minutes left within the recreation. 

“We’ve got to be tough,” Westbrook mentioned. “(Monday) is win-or-go-home. There’s not much to talk about. Xs and Os really don’t matter. We’ve got to kind of just grind it out and be tough.” 

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