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Joel Embiid’s return has, in fact, reset the series.
Embiid and James Harden led the Philadelphia 76ers to a huge 116-108 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday night in Game 4, which tied their Eastern Conference semifinals series at 2-2.
Harden dropped 31 on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center, something the Heat didn’t seem to have an answer to. Miami’s early 2-0 lead in the series, which it took after Embiid went down with an orbital fracture and a concussion, is long gone.
The 76ers flew ahead at the end of the first half, and they took an eight-point lead into the break after shooting nearly 64% from the field as a team in the first 24 minutes. Miami shot just 4-of-18 from behind the arc.
Though Miami cut the game to four points by the end of the third, Philadelphia opened the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run and pushed its lead to 12 — the largest of the game at the time after a contested Harden 3-pointer.
— NBA (@NBA) May 9, 2022
Harden then, almost single-handedly, fended off any Miami advance in the final minutes of the game to lead the 76ers to the win. Harden dropped 16 of his 31 points — which marked his best output in the postseason this year — in the final period, too. He added nine assists and seven rebounds, and went 6-of-10 from the 3-point line, four of which he hit in the fourth quarter.
"It's just James being James. He played great," 76ers coach Doc Rivers said, via the Bucks County Courier Times' Tom Moore. "I said it before the game, I felt like he was going to have a big game tonight ... you can just sense it."
Embiid finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Tyrese Maxey dropped 18 points in the win, the second straight for the 76ers. All five Philadelphia starters scored in double figures, while the team shot 53.7% from the field.
Jimmy Butler led Miami with 40 points and six assists, and Bam Adebayo finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. The Heat shot just 18.2% from the 3-point line.
Game 5 of the series is set for Tuesday night in Miami. No team has yet to win on the road in the series. Still, Rivers isn't worried. After all, "Joel is going to be on the plane" to Miami this time around.
"He does everything for us," Rivers said, via the 76ers' Lauren Rosen. "And we haven't seen the best of Joel in this series yet ... I think the best is yet to come for Joel in this series."