Philadelphia 76ers

NBA Playoffs 2021: Joel Embiid showcases new and improved post game in dominant Game 3 win

The Washington Wizards had absolutely no answer for Joel Embiid in Game 3 of their first-round series with the Philadelphia 76ers.

In 27 minutes of play, Embiid led all scorers with a playoff career-high 36 points on 14-for-18 shooting from the field, 3-for-4 from 3-point range and 5-for-7 from the free throw line. He added eight rebounds, three steals and two assists to his stat line, leading the 76ers to a commanding 132-103 win to give them a 3-0 lead in the series.

Embiid has been lighting defenses up all season long - this is your reminder that he's a finalist for MVP alongside Stephen Curry and Nikola Jokic - but it's the way in which he did it in Game 3 that stood out, as he dominated Washington's frontcourt on a steady diet of face-ups out of the post.

MORE: Can 76ers possibly improve on Game 3 masterpiece?

As I wrote earlier in the season, it's a part of Embiid's game that we've seen a lot more this season. He's long been one of the league's best post-up scorers, but he relied more on overwhelming defenders with his size in the past. His post-up game is now a more well-balanced blend of power and finesse, making him practically unguardable out of the low block.

It all starts with Embiid's ability to attack the basket. At 7-feet and 280-pounds, defenders have little-to-no hope of stopping him once he gets a step on him.

Alex Len certainly didn't stand much of a chance.

Neither did Robin Lopez.

If defenders back off of him to take away those drives, Embiid can now fall back on his trusty midrange jumper.

Embiid was one of the best midrange shooters in the entire league this season. He made 140 shots from that distance, ranking him 11th in the NBA behind a group of players that included the likes of Chris Paul, DeMar DeRozan and Khris Middleton. And he knocked them down at a 49.1 percent clip, which was one of the better rates in the league.

It would be one thing if Embiid was only a threat to shoot when he faces-up to the basket...

...but he's a much improved shooter off the dribble.

According to, Embiid made 33.3 percent of his 2-point pull-ups last season. This season, he made 46.0 percent of those opportunities on even greater volume.

He has a silky smooth step back for a 7-footer, something Lopez...


...and Rui Hachimura learned the hard way in Game 3.

Embiid also has a fadeaway in his bag that would make Hakeem Olajuwon proud.

It was only one game against a Wizards team that came into this series without much of an answer for the big fella, but Embiid developed his face-up game with the playoffs in mind.

"I've been adding a lot to my game and it's been working well," Embiid said this season. "But I'm excited because that's what you need in the playoffs, especially when you're going to play a team four-to-seven times and they're going to game plan.

"Sometimes I'm going to have to shoot over double teams; sometimes I've got to pass it; sometimes I've got to figure out how to play through double teams and triple teams. Those types of shots, you can't guard. You can't guard a step-back. You can't guard a catch-and-shoot shot.

"So, I think it's going to go a long way."

It's certainly going a long way in this series, and Embiid's new and improved post game could be the key to the 76ers making a run to the Finals.

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