Philadelphia 76ers: 3 takeaways from Game 3 vs. Heat

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The franchise center returned to action on Thursday night and led the Sixers to a massive 128-108 victory over the Heat in Game 3, silencing all doubt about whether his return would upend a Sixers team playing its best basketball of the season over the last couple months. Nikola Mirotic scored 21 of his playoff career-high 30 points in the first half and finished with eight rebounds and three steals as New Orleans dumped the Trail Blazers, 119-102 to take a three-games-to-none series lead. He racked up 19 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. He did all this with a protective mask that he was forced to wear after suffering a fracture to his left orbital bone several weeks ago.

Embiid has nicknamed himself "The Process", after the famous "trust the process" mantra of former 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie, who began a slow rebuilding job that culminated in the team's playoff berth this year, its first since 2012.

Head coach Popovich did not attend Thursday's game which took place just a day after the passing of his wife Erin Popovich who died from a long-term illness. He had to get a doctor's clearance from the team and league approval for the mask and goggle combination that sometimes slipped off his face.

"It is not like there is a clear vision line out of the mask". "We want to be next to Pop, we want to support him, but we've got to go out there and compete today". He finished with 23 points on 5-of-11 shooting, seven rebounds, four assists; he also exchanged some pleasantries with Justise Winslow and even shushed the crowd after hitting a three late in the first half.

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"It hasn't happened by chance", Brown said of Simmons' progress.

"I'm trying to figure that out right now", he said. "I like that we did that".

Justin Anderson and Dwyane Wade got a little physical in the first two minutes of the second quarter, and on replay it showed that Wade pulled Anderson to the ground and Justin responded with a push before going to the ground. Embiid faked out one defender, but when he went up for the score, Winslow blocked him with both hands.

The Heat remained with an opening five of Whiteside at centre, James Johnson and Josh Richardson at forward, Dragic and Tyler Johnson at guard. "His shot attempts are going to be there".

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EMBIID: It felt great. I think that second game really helped us. "We had a conversation and I'm glad they let me play".

"It's definitely a different look when you have an All-Star back in the lineup", Winslow said.

"It changes things, for sure", he said. They have scored just 0.43 points per paint touch in the postseason, which is significantly worse than their rate (0.83) during the regular season. This time around, they were 18-for-34 (52.9 percent) from downtown.

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