Once down 17 points in the first half of their Game 3 battle on the road against the Toronto Raptors, the Philadelphia 76ers nearly completed their comeback in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, after failing to execute down the stretch, the Sixers needed to go to overtime with the Raptors as the score was tied at 95.
Similar to the final two-quarters of regulation, the game was tight, and both teams struggled to find separation on the scoreboard. Through just about five additional minutes, the Sixers and the Raptors scored six points each.
As the 76ers had the ball for their final possession, they worked on burning off as long as possible before getting up a final shot to take a late lead. Before getting a shot off, Sixers center Joel Embiid nearly turned the ball over as pressure from the defense trapped him beyond the three-point line.
Fortunately, the Sixers could save the possession for a moment as they called timeout, but they needed to draw up a perfect play call to make something out of nothing. Coming out of the timeout, Philadelphia had 0.9 seconds to get a shot off before they were whistled for a shot-clock violation.
Scroll to Continue
Sixers veteran Danny Green tossed the ball to Embiid, who caught it on the move beyond the arc. With just enough time to turn around and get a tough shot off with a defender in his face, Embiid got off his most challenging shot of the evening, which ended up being successful.
“That’s one of my favorite spots,” said Embiid after the game. “I just missed from right there to end the game. So I just felt like it was a great play call. Tobias set an amazing screen, Danny had a great pass, and all I had to do really was to finish it. I’m glad I did.”
That wasn’t the first time the Sixers attempted to run that play. Following the Game 3 victory in Toronto, Embiid revealed that the Sixers drew up the same play in a matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, they didn’t find the same success that time around.
“We’ve run it in the past,” Embiid explained. “If you remember the turnover that I had against Minnesota when I didn’t pass the ball when I was double-teamed, that was the same play call that we just ran. I’m glad it worked out this time. You had Tyrese coming over the top and going to the rim for the lob. You had Danny flaring and obviously, Tobias setting the screen for me, and if I wasn’t open, the last result was Tobias popping out after the screen and trying to make the shot.”
The Sixers didn’t need a plan B as their first option took the chance and nailed the shot. With the game-winning three, the Sixers pulled away with a three-point victory, sending the Raptors into a two-day break with an 0-3 record in the first round.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.