Joel Embiid’s return sparks two game win streak to keep Sixers alive, tying series 2-2

The Sixers make a come back with the help of Embiid as they head into game five


Photo courtesy of

Joel Embiid of the Sixers takes a shot against Heat defenders on Sunday night

Aaron Rigby, Sports Writer

For the first time since getting elbowed in the face by Pascal Siakam in game six of the first round of the playoffs, Joel Embiid returned to action on the court to help his team avoid going down 3-0 in game three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. 

In his first full game in a little over a week, Embiid played 36 minutes, and put up 18 points and 11 boards.  The Sixers’ scoring in this game was more spread out than it has been in their recent games.  In games one and two of the Semifinals, most of the scoring for the Sixers came from Tyrese Maxey, who scored 34 points in game one, and 42 points in game two. In game three, four Sixers scored double digits, led by Maxey and Danny Green who scored 21 points each. Embiid contributed 18 and James Harden put up 17.  

Though the Sixers were able to defeat the Miami Heat in a blowout win in game three with a final score of 99-79, the narrative heading into game four wasn’t Maxey’s growth, nor was it Embiid’s ability to play hobbled or stay healthy. It was Harden’s ability to be the scorer he used to be, if James Harden was capable of “turning back the clock” to his old Houston Rockets form.  He got rid of that narrative with his 31 point outbreak performance in game four. Though that’s not even close to the craziest stat line we’ve seen Harden produce, it was the best performance we have seen from him in a Sixers uniform.  He was constantly hitting big shots to keep the Heat away and eliminate any hope they had of winning the game. And like he did in a Rockets uniform, he was hitting his infamous step-back threes. 

Noticeably, Embiid was being more physical and aggressive in this game than he was in game three. Sixers fans can expect this trend with Embiid to continue as he is only going to get better and more confident in his abilities to be aggressive and physical with the competition, especially now that he feels he has something to prove after reportedly being defeated in the MVP race to Nuggets Center Nikola Jokic for the second year in a row. 

In order to sustain any type of confidence or competition, the Heat are going to have to find a new game plan to deal with Joel on the block because the two games they had to play against him, they looked completely out of control, and this is extremely disappointing from a competitive standpoint, especially since the Heat, more specifically Jimmy Butler, have been walking around talking about how they “want Joel to be out there.” I’m sure I speak for many when I say I’m confused as to why the Heat would want Embiid on the court, considering the fact that they haven’t been performing well against him. 

The Sixers have a chance to make NBA history if they can win this series against the Heat. According to, only six teams out of 112 have been able to win a Conference Semifinal series when down 0-2, giving teams down 0-2 in the series a 5.4% success rate. The Sixers will look to improve their chances at joining that six team squad as a pivotal Game Five will be played back in Miami on Tuesday night at 7:30.