Player grades: Joel Embiid returns as Sixers beat Heat in Game 3

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PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers were desperate. They were down 0-2 returning home after dropping the first two games of this series with the Miami Heat and with the return of Joel Embiid, they were looking to pick up a must-win and get themselves back in the series.

It was a tough start to this one offensively as both teams really had a hard time getting into any rhythm, but the Sixers were able to eke out a lead thanks to the return of Embiid and the start by James Harden. After the Heat made it a game, Philadelphia was eventually able to come away with a 90-79 win in Game 3 and get themselves on the board.

Danny Green had 21 points and Tyrese Maxey had 21 points and six assists to lead Philadelphia, Harden had 17 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, Embiid had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Tobias Harris had nine points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists.

Here are the player grades following the win:

James Harden: B+

The Sixers received a very aggressive Harden from the jump in this one. He was getting to the rim where he drew some fouls and he got to the free-throw line often while also knocking down a 3-ball early. He took advantage of Miami switching when he had Max Strus and Tyler Herro on him. He was getting to the rim often during those switches. A big key in this game was him picking up his fourth foul. When he went to the bench in the third, that’s when the Heat made their move.

Tyrese Maxey: B+

As is always the case when Embiid returns, Maxey was kind of phased out of the offense a bit in the early going and relegated to being a spot-shooter. He only took three shots in the first half. He didn’t score his first points until the third quarter and it looked like the Heat really started keying in on him and denying him the basketball. He was huge in the third quarter when Miami went on a 20-6 run to erase a 14-point deficit. He scored five quick points and the Sixers were able to take control of the game back. He then got into a groove and he was terrific down the stretch again as has been the case plenty of times for the Sixers this season.

Danny Green: A+

After a miserable shooting performance in Miami to start this series, Green knocked down seven of his first eight triples in order to give Philadelphia a big spark in the opening quarter of this game. When Green is knocking down his open triples, it gives the Sixers such a huge help and it spaces the floor more for the heavy lifters. He was terrific in this one from start to finish.

Tobias Harris: B+

With Kyle Lowry returning, the Heat had him defend Harris a bit in the post. To Lowry’s credit, he is a very good post defender and he forced Harris into some tough shots. As always, he was at his best when Philadelphia was able to get out in transition. He was also terrific on the glass and he did a good job of distributing the ball as well which is a big help. Harris was also terrific on the defensive end again as has been the case throughout these playoffs.

Joel Embiid: B-

The early Embiid minutes were pretty tough for the big fella. He hadn’t played since April 28 and it was clear that he needed a few minutes to really get into the game and be who he normally is. He also had a tough time with the mask on as he took it off every chance he got. Overall, he made such a huge difference on the defensive end. The Heat weren’t just walking in for layups every time because Embiid was there in order to deter them and make them think twice about going up for it. Overall, he committed some bad offensive fouls and he had a tough time getting into any type of rhythm on offense. He was phenomenal defensively, however.

Matisse Thybulle: A

For the first time in a while, Thybulle finally looked like himself again. He was in the passing lanes all night and his defense on Herro was stellar. He also was very good on offense with his cutting and being able to free himself for easy shots at the basket.

Georges Niang: C

After Game 2, coach Doc Rivers did admit that Niang wasn’t at 100% and it’s been that way for a while. To start this one, The Minivan once again had a tough time on the defensive end and he missed his open 3-pointer early in this one. He finally did get one to fall in the third quarter to give Philadelphia some cushion a bit with the lead.

Shake Milton: B

After not playing in Game 2, Milton hopped off the bench and knocked down a triple in transition and he was aggressive on the offensive end. When he’s aggressive, it makes a difference for the bench unit.

Paul Reed: C

The Sixers went back to a normal center rotation with Embiid returning and Reed did some good things in his initial stint. He was caught on a bad foul on the defensive end, but he was active and he was mostly in the right spot on the defensive end.

Furkan Korkmaz: D

It looked as if Korkmaz has earned his spot back in the rotation. He was one of the first off the bench in this one, but he didn’t do much in his initial stint. He didn’t play much after that stint either as Rivers turned back to Milton.

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