Philadelphia took the lead for the first time in the Eastern Conference semi-finals of the NBA Playoffs against Toronto, with a home show of 116-95 on Thursday.
Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler bluffed everyone, even Allen Iverson. The former Philadelphia backstroker, who was lightning his opponents with his dribbling dribbles and spectacular baskets, took full eyes and left his seat several times, enthused by the offensive recital of the Sixers.
Embiid, boosted, has indeed martyred the Raptors with his 33 points (13 of 22 shot), ten rebounds and five cons.
Toronto had returned to eight points at the end of the third period (89-81), but the Cameroonian pivot quickly extinguished the hopes of the Canadian franchise with nine points and two blocks, including one angry, ahead of his compatriot Pascal Siakam who, frustrated by the domination of the Sixers, had taken him a few moments earlier.
Embiid, who had been sidelined for several weeks by left knee tendinitis, made the show with a spectacular dunk and some exuberant celebrations of her baskets.
“I need to score points, but all the people who know me know that I need to have fun too, all the cinema that I do sometimes is good because it also motivates my teammates”, insisted Embiid.
“I do not hold one action more than another, it’s a jewel in defense and on offense, he has achieved an incredible performance,” said coach Brett Brown.
“Embiid played very well, he brought his energy and made the right decisions very often, we need to find the solution to prevent him from settling in the racket”, confirmed Nick Nurse, coach of Toronto.
The clear victory of the Sixers also owes much to Jimmy Butler who scored 22 points and grazed the “triple double” (three categories of statistics to ten units and more) with nine rebounds and nine assists.
“I’m just trying to bring what I can to this team,” explained Butler, who arrived during the season from Minnesota.
Kawhi Leonard scored 33 points for Toronto, but his teammates were heavily rebound-dominated (35-over-45) and were desperate for three points (7 of 27, 25.9 per cent).
“We have been dominated in all areas, rebounding, in terms of energy and commitment and this has not happened for a long time.It will play the next matches with more physical intensity, it will have to be harder, “Nurse warned.
The Sixers lead two wins to one and can get closer to the Eastern Conference Finals, if successful in match N.4 Sunday, still in Philadelphia.
Embiid, 25, is confident: “If we continue to play like this, we can achieve something big,” he said.