Joel Embiid finished with 33 points as the Philadelphia 76ers routed the Toronto Raptors 116-95 on Thursday to seize a 2-1 lead in their NBA second-round playoff series.
Embiid also had 10 rebounds and five blocked shots for his 12th double-double in 15 career playoff games.
“I was trying not to force anything and if I didn’t have it I just moved it to my teammates,” he said. “We wanted to put our foot down in the fourth and we did that by making stops.”
Jimmy Butler added 22 points, nine assists and nine rebounds while JJ Redick delivered 15 points for the Sixers, who have won two straight including a gritty 94-89 victory in game two three nights ago.
Game four will be played in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Kawhi Leonard paced the Raptors’ attack with 33 points while Pascal Siakam added 20.
Leonard has scored at least 30 points in five of Toronto’s eight playoff games this season, including all three games against Philadelphia.
Embiid was at his theatrical best, jiggling his shoulders and rocking a mock baby after scoring baskets.
“I need it. When I have fun, my game just changes,” he said. “I have always been told that if I don’t smile during the game that I’m either having a bad game or I’m not into it.
“I know that to get my game going, I have to have fun on the court.”
Philadelphia led 64-53 at halftime thanks in large part to Embiid’s 18 points. The Sixers also shot eight of 14 from three-point range in the opening half.
Leonard powered the Raptors with 17 points in the first half, and continued his fine play in the third quarter with another 14 points to keep Toronto within eight (89-81) heading into the fourth.
“We’ve got to help him,” Kyle Lowry said. “Myself especially, I’ve got to help him score more. I’ve got to help him on the floor. We’ve all got to help him. He’s playing unbelievable right now.
“We’re not giving him any help.”
Embiid drained his third three-pointer and the 76ers charged to a 94-82 lead early in the fourth.
Butler upped his scoring prowess with a couple of baskets and the lead was stretched to 100-82 with nine minutes left in the fourth.
Butler then slammed home a dunk, got fouled and put the Sixers ahead 108-84 with 5:51 left.
The Raptors missed 11 of their first 12 shots in the fourth. Toronto was hurt by poor shooting and rebounding.
“I think we got outplayed in just about every area we could get outplayed. In overall physicality, energy, cutting, rebounding, passing, all that kind of stuff,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.
“We got thoroughly outplayed and it’s been a while… since you’ve seen this team play this way.”