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Joel Embiid shredded over ‘dirty’ play after historic 50-point NBA playoffs eruption

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The Knicks lost a scrap in the sandbox to the Sixers and the MVP version of Joel Embiid.

It got dirty. Feisty. The Sixers went for eyes and legs.

And Embiid, lucky not to be ejected after grabbing Mitchell Robinson’s legs, emerged victorious, riding a dominant third quarter to finish with 50 points and a 125-114 Thursday win for Philly.

With 4:30 remaining in the first quarter, Embiid fell to the Wells Fargo Center court after attempting to take a charge when OG Anunoby drove. When Anunoby dished a pass to Robinson, the 76ers’ star grabbed the Knicks center’s leg and attempted to trip him.

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Embiid was called for a flagrant 1 foul but ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins believed the reigning MVP should have been ejected.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was fuming when discussing how the game was officiated in his post-match press conference.

If Embiid had been tossed, it would’ve only made Philadelphia’s quest to win Game 3 and trim its series deficit to 2-1 even more daunting.

No team has ever recovered from a 3-0 deficit, so Thursday was essentially an elimination game for the Sixers and they played with that type of desperation.

Embiid, who set a new career-high for the playoffs, was physical and efficient while hitting 13 of his 19 shots with eight rebounds, dropping 18 points in the third quarter — which the Sixers ended on a 32-19 run to take a 13-point advantage heading into the fourth.

His huge game comes amid concerns he has been dealing with a mild case of Bell’s palsy, as per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Bell’s palsy is a condition that causes sudden weaknesses in the muscles in the face.

Jalen Brunson had his best game of the series while recording 39 points with 13 assists.

But defence was an issue for the Knicks, who allowed the Sixers to shoot 55 per cent and hit 15 treys.

It was spicy early.

Three plays were reviewed in the opening eight minutes, all Sixers fouls.

Kyle Lowry was whistled for an early Flagrant 1 after slapping Donte DiVincenzo in the face on a Knicks drive.

A couple minutes later, Embiid appeared to knee Isaiah Hartenstein in the groin — perhaps on purpose — and was given an offensive foul.

Not long after that, Embiid fell to the court and grabbed Robinson as he attempted a dunk.

Embiid was eager to muck up the game after declaring the Sixers were the better team and would win the series.

He pushed and menaced.

The Knicks physically dominated the games in MSG, and Embiid arrived on a mission not to let that happen again.

The atmosphere was, as expected, loud.

Sixers supporters dominated the crowd but Knicks fans also showed up, boosted in spirit and confidence by the 2-0 series lead.

The most prevalent storyline heading into the matchup concerned the officiating and the idea the Sixers were cheated out of Game 2. It prompted Nick Nurse’s team to issue a list of grievances through the media and Embiid to declare his team should be winning the series, which Josh Hart shrugged off.

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“I don’t care, they’re not. We’re up 2-0,” Hart said at the morning shootaround. “When the NBA starts basing the series on what we think, then I would care a little bit more. We’re up 2-0, right now we’re just focused on trying to get our third one.”

It didn’t work.

Embiid was a force but, by the end, was limping on his surgically-repaired left knee.

He was aided by 25 points from Tyrese Maxey and 15 from Kelly Oubre Jr. Killed on the boards in the first two games — especially in Game 1 — the Sixers responded by winning the rebounding battle, 36-34.

For the Knicks, Hart had 20 points with six rebounds and six assists.

OG Anunoby recorded 17 points but only six after the first half.

DiVincenzo, a hero of Game 2, missed all 3 of his trey attempts and finished with just five points.

The Knicks centres, meanwhile, had problems.

Isaiah Hartenstein had three fouls in just nine minutes.

The backup, Robinson, had three fouls in 12 minutes and was limping around the court.

He was ruled out of the second half with a sprained left ankle, the same ankle that underwent surgery in December.

This story was posted by the New York Times and republished with permission.

NBA Playoff Results – April 26

Knicks 114 @ Sixers 125 (Knicks lead series 2-1)

Cavaliers 81 @ Magic 123 (Cavs lead series 2-1)

Nuggets 112 @ Lakers 105 (Nuggets lead series 3-0)

Under-manned Heat shock Celtics | 00:33

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