With little stamina and confidence in deploying his full range of offensive skills, Joel Embiid unleashed a landslide performance Saturday night by scoring 36 points in the Playoffs in just 28 minutes to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 132- win. 103 on the Wizards.
He made 14 of 18 shots, with a series of powerful moves, long jump shots and 3s as the 76ers took their first 3-0 lead in a series since 1985.
The Wizards, who have full-court matchup problems against the bigger and deeper 76ers, didn’t cover Embiid as aggressively as they did in Games 1 and 2 as they looked to deploy attention elsewhere. Embiid crushed the strategy, accumulating 25 points in the first half.
He is averaging 30.6 points on a relentless 67% shooting, including 55% from 3-pointers after going 3-for-4 in Game 3. His dominance and confidence against the Wizards’ attempts to deal with him were epitomized in two possessions at the end. of the second quarter.
In open space at the 3-point line, Embiid pretended to pump and easily outplayed Daniel Gafford, his defender on the play. When Embiid got into the lane, the baseline defender, Rui Hachimura, rescued and got out of the way. Embiid got up for a powerful dunk but missed, perhaps surprised it was so easy.
Two possessions later, seeing no reason not to, he tried the exact move again. Gafford was lost in a fake Embiid bomb, Hachimura was lost when Embiid came rolling down the lane and this time the MVP finalist was right on the spot, polishing off a prominent jam before posing.
It wasn’t just Gafford and Hachimura, Embiid beat half the Wizards roster on the night. Washington was ranked 13th in defense among playoff teams and didn’t show much vigor, allowing the 76ers to get a series of earned 3-pointers in the transition and mid-court sets.
Ben Simmons, who had 14 points and nine assists, repeatedly set up his teammates for triples, namely Embiid and Danny Green, who made five of them. The 76ers made 17 of 33 3s and shot 59% overall.
Russell Westbrook, playing with a sprained right ankle, had his best offensive game of the series with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, tying Jason Kidd for third place all-time in playoff triple-doubles with his eleventh. Bradley Beal scored 25 points but only hit 1 of 8 3-pointers.
“Joel was special, special tonight,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “We had one of those nights where it all fell for us.”