76ers-Raptors: Joel Embiid sinks Toronto with a winning 3 in OT, propels Philly to a 3-0 lead
Game 3 between the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors blessed us with an epic ending. With 2.5 seconds remaining in overtime and the game tied at 101-101, Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid knocked down arguably the biggest shot of his entire career.
The ball was sent to Embiid just beyond the 3-point line with less than a second remaining on the shot clock, and the big guy caught the pass, turned around and fired a shot at the Raptors guard Fred VanVleet. The ball headed for the edge like a homing missile and only hit the back of the net. Splash.
The shot – Embiid’s first career game winner – gave the Sixers a 104-101 lead, and in turn a 3-0 lead over Toronto. The series is not over, but such a lead has proven historically insurmountable in the past, as no team in league history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series at the best of seven.
The shot must have been particularly deflating for the Raptors after playing their best game of the series, by far. Trailing 2-0 and obviously wanting to avoid falling into that 3-0 hole, Toronto came out with a sense of urgency and added intensity on Wednesday night, and led for much of the game because of it. The Raptors had a 10-point lead after one quarter, and they held that lead heading into the locker room at halftime.
The Sixers began to recover in the second half, however, thanks in large part to an 18-point third quarter from Embiid. Philadelphia cut Toronto’s lead to one after 36 minutes of action, and they obviously managed to tie it at the end of regulation. In overtime, Embiid’s dagger ultimately proved to be the difference. The Sixers never had a single lead in the game until overtime. With that stat alone, the Raptors will have to feel like they let one get away.
After seeing his and the Sixers’ playoff hopes dashed by a Raptors game-winner in the same arena in 2019, Embiid needed to feel good to get a payback. But while the big guy was obviously happy with the outcome of Game 3, he’s also fully aware that the streak isn’t over.
“It’s the best [shot of my career]but the job is not done,” Embiid said after the game. “We have one more, so we have to come back here in two days and try to beat them again.”
Embiid (33 points, 13 rebounds) led the way for Philadelphia in Game 3, but he also got his fair share of assists, as he has in every series. James Harden and Tyrese Maxey both scored 19 points, and Harden matched his point production with 10 assists. Tobias Harris also contributed with a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds). The Sixers enjoyed a balanced scoring offense all series.
On the other side, OG Anunoby scored 26 points and grabbed five rebounds for Toronto, Gary Trent Jr. added 24 points despite illness, and Precious Achiuwa had 20 off the bench. As a team, they forced 24 turnovers, but ultimately it wasn’t enough. After three games, it’s become clear they’re outmatched in the series, and at this point any result other than the Sixers’ lead would be shocking.
For Embiid, his 3-pointer in overtime was the most memorable single shot of his career so far, and while it may be his first career game-winner, there’s a good chance it will. not be the last.