Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, center, goes up for a shot against New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson, right, and Josh Hart during the first half of Game 3 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid is suffering from Bell’s palsy and played Game 3 with a bulky knee brace to sturdy the 7-footer after dealing with injuries all  NBA season.

The lingering effects of the time off from his most recent knee surgery s ucked him into a depression — and that was before Embiid was hit with a form of facial paralysis. Embiid pushed aside the pain — mental and physical — and embraced the pressure after he vowed the 76ers were “going to win this series” against the New York Knicks.

Embiid scored 50 points, making all four 3-point attempts and scoring 18 in a potential series-saving third quarter on Thursday night to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 125-114 win in Game 3 of their NBA Eastern Conference first-round series.

READ: NBA: 76ers’ Joel Embiid says he’s suffering from Bell’s palsy

After getting punished in New York, the Sixers pushed back.

“They want to bring the physicality,” Embiid said. “We can be physical, too.”

Embiid boldly stated “we’re going to win this series” after the 76ers dropped Game 2.

They at least have a shot now — the Knicks lead the series 2-1 and Game 4 is Sunday in Philadelphia.

Embiid was 13 of 19 from the floor, made 19 of 21 free throws and hit five 3-pointers.

NBA: 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey wins Most Improved Player award

Embiid, who scored a franchise-best 70 points against San Antonio in January, became the first player in NBA history to score 50 points on fewer than 20 shots in a playoff game.

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Last season’s NBA MVP, Embiid finally turned the crowd — which had a distinct New York flavor in South Philly — into one rocking for the home team. The All-Star center played more like a sharpshooting guard in the third, when he saved the season.

The Sixers pecked away at a three-point halftime deficit when Embiid got hot. He hit one 3 and then two more —- the last two with assists from Tyrese Maxey — that gave the Sixers an 82-72 lead. His fourth 3 pushed the lead to 98-85.

Not bad for a career 34% 3-point shooter.

Maxey added two 3s in the quarter and the 76ers went a whopping 9 of 12 from beyond the arc for 43 points.

Philadelphia 76ers' Tyrese Maxey NBA Playoffs Knicks vs 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey poses with the Most Improved Player trophy before Game 3 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Embiid mostly kept his cool and was in the mix on both ends of the court all game. Embiid had 17 points, three fouls and he even grabbed Mitchell Robinson and dragged him to the court in a first half where they again weren’t good enough to look like a team that could beat the Knicks.

Embiid was whistled for a flagrant foul on the play. Robinson suffered a sprained left ankle and left the arena in a boot.

“I didn’t mean to hurt anybody,” Embiid said. “In those situations, I’ve got to protect myself.”

Embiid said he first started suffering from the affliction about a “day or two” before the Sixers played the Miami Heat on April 17 in the play-in tournament.

“My left side of my face, my mouth and my eye,” Embiid said. “It’s been tough. But I’m not a quitter. I’m going to keep fighting through anything.”

The Knicks won the first two games in New York, highlighted by Donte DiVincenzo’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 13 seconds left in Game 2. Against the backdrop of two Villanova national championship banners they helped the program win, the trio of former Wildcats were largely stifled in Game 3.

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Jalen Brunson did lead the Knicks with 39 points and 13 assists. Josh Hart — whose spectacular 3-point shooting in New York was an unexpected bonus for the Knicks — scored 20 points but DiVincenzo had five.

Hart said he was “all for tough playoff fouls” but Embiid’s foul could have put Robinson out for a “serious amount of time.”

The Knicks must have felt at home inside a Sixers’ arena that sounded more like Madison Square Garden as chants of “Let’s Go Knicks!’ echoed throughout the arena for a chunk of the game. John Starks wildly cheered them on from his courtside.

The Sixers countered with Allen Iverson, who along with Embiid and Billy Cunningham are the only players in franchise history to hit 50 points in a playoff game.

But nostalgia didn’t matter much between teams that played each other in a postseason series for the first time since 1989.

This one could be shaping up as one to remember.

Embiid was serenaded with “MVP! MVP!” chants as he stretched the lead from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

“Joel Embiid has been banned from the Empire State Building,” was posted on the skyscraper’s social media account.

Maxey finished with 25 points. Kelly Oubre Jr. had 15 points and showed no lingering effects following his reported involvement in a car crash after Game 2. Cam Payne hit three 3s and scored 11 points.

“I think Cam Payne was the MVP of the game,” 76ers guard Kyle Lowry said.

Outside of a disputed call on Embiid’s flagrant, Game 3 was played without any significant disputes with the officiating after the NBA said the referees missed several late calls in Game 2.



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Embiid’s 21 free-throw attempts were more than New York attempted the entire game; the Knicks made 13 of 19.

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“I’ll send my clips in like I do every game,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They’ll say marginal contact. Then they’ll say marginal contact on Embiid and he’ll be at the line 21 times. That’s just the way it works.”



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