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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown feels Joel Embiid is the best player in the series

It was a special game from the Philadelphia 76ers' All-Star centre Joel Embiid.

He has been battling through a knee injury the entire postseason. He missed one game in the first round against the Brooklyn Nets and has been playing through pain in every other game since.

His team was blown out in Game 1 in Toronto and many began to write off the 76ers for the series. They responded well to take Game 2 on the road, sending the series back to Philly tied 1-1.

Game 3 in a split series is mightily important - 78% of the Game 3 winners in a 1-1 series goes on to advance in the playoffs.

Riding their rocking home court crowd, the 76ers dominated the Raptors throughout the entire game to take a 2-1 series lead and Embiid was the catalyst that sparked his team and their fans.

Embiid was a monster - he scored 33 points going 9-for-18 (50%) from the field while having a rare sharpshooting night from the perimeter, knocking down three of his four attempts. He grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds and blocked five shots, asserting himself as the driving force on both ends of the floor.

His fourth quarter is what put the game away.

Leading by just eight points after Raptors' star Kawhi Leonard went for 14 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting third quarter, Embiid made sure his team would come away with the win.

He knocked down a 3-pointer to kickstart what would become a 21-5 run in the 76ers' favour. He swatted a Pascal Siakam layup attempt on the next possession, which caused the Raptors forward to trip up Embiid out of frustration, resulting in a flagrant 1 foul. Embiid sunk both free throws, then swatted Siakam again on the very next Raptors possession.

The crowd was already riding Embiid's energy, but even more so moments later in the fourth quarter. With the 76ers' lead up to 24 points, Embiid pump-faked on a 3-pointer which got Marc Gasol off his feet. Embiid attacked the rim and threw down a vicious windmill that nearly blew the roof off of the Wells Fargo Center.

It was an exclamation point on an impressive performance from a player who we know is more than capable of outings like this when he's fully healthy.

Following the game, 76ers' head coach Brett Brown was asked if he felt that when Joel Embiid is fully healthy, is he the best player in the series?

His answer was simple - with a smile on his face, Brown responded, "yes."

It could come off as a bold statement given what Kawhi Leonard has done for the Raptors. He scored 33 points in this same contest, he's averaging a whopping 37.7 points per game on historic shooting percentages, and yet, his team trails in this series.

Brown's praise for Embiid didn't stop there either, "he is our crowned jewel," he told the media in his post-game press conference. "Defensively, and I suppose offensively, too, but defensively his rim protection and shot blocking ability stood out as much to me as anything in this incredible performance."

Throughout his 'incredible performance', Embiid was enjoying the game the way he always does - celebrating, dancing, doing a little bit of everything to react after his own highlight-reel plays.

He told the media in his post-game press conference that he doesn't mean anything by it, it's just a part of his game.

"I need it. I want to have fun. My game just changes. I'm always told that if I don't smile during the game I'm either having a bad game or I'm not into it." He was certainly into it in this one, flying like a plane down the court following his insane windmill and doing a little dance after a clutch and-1 a few possessions before that.

"I know that to get my game going I gotta have fun on the court. I need to make plays but that part of the theatrics has to happen for me. The game is more fun that way - we all have fun as a team. You can see it; it lifts my teammates and helps us do a good job."

It certainly helped ignite his performance, his team and the crowd in the commanding Game 3 win.

The 76ers and Raptors are set to face off back at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Sunday for Game 4.

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