Joel Embiid's loud, dominant return is just what 76ers, National Basketball Association playoffs needed

NBAE via Getty Images

NBAE via Getty Images

After faltering at home in the second game of their seven-game series against the Heat, Philly needed some firepower to bring it to South Florida and a shot in the arm from a returning Joel Embiid was just what the doctor ordered in a 128-108 win to go up 2-1 on the campaign. Game 3 was more of the same for Whiteside.

Meanwhile, 76ers center Joel Embiid scored 23 points in his return after a 10-game absence to recover from surgery to fix a broken left orbital bone.

Whiteside is averaging just 3.7 points in the playoffs thus far, a far cry from his 14.0 ppg regular season average, and the center is demanding more minutes so he can produce more.

It's clear the Heat are going to have their hands full in trying to limit Embiid in the rest of the series, but they're going to need to find a way to do so in what is essentially a must-win Game 4. They continued to play with their newfound offensive discipline, committing just 10 turnovers (Embiid contributed three of them), and they shot 18-of-34 from 3-point range, finally breaking Miami's spirit with a fourth-quarter barrage.

Goran Dragic played well for the Heat scoring 23 points.

As the free throws continued to build up, the 76ers took a 96-94 lead into the fourth quarter. Over the final 6:51, the 76ers used a 20-6 run to turn the game into a rout.

Game 4 is Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

Nevertheless, Sixers Coach Brett Brown said before Thursday's contest that Embiid would not be on a minutes limit in his first game back, but that the center's level of conditioning could be a factor. "So I had to work through it, and I did, and we got a pretty good win".

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Embiid has embraced the challenge head-on, literally - given the risk to come back with such a fragile part of the body in danger of suffering more damage against a physical team like the Heat.

The team upgraded his status to probable, from doubtful, late in the afternoon.

Philadelphia 76ers fans, I have to be honest with you, I messed up on this one.

San Antonio did not air a video tribute or hold a moment of silence for Erin in an apparent attempt to make the game as routine as possible for its players, but that was impossible.

Spoelstra has said several times during the series that it is his responsibility to get more from Whiteside, who signed a $98 million contract with the Heat after the 2015-16 season. "I don't really get caught up in that".

Odds for Game Four will be released shortly at the BetDSI Sportsbook. He deserves a lot of credit and I feel like he should be Coach of the Year, too.

Let's be clear: They still killed the Heat with Embiid on the floor, and their change-of-pace lineups nearly certainly wouldn't have been as effective over the course of a full game.

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