The Philadelphia 76ers have a 3-0 lead over the Nets in the first round of the NBA’s Eastern Conference playoff series. But much of the conversation following the Sixers’ 102-97 victory in Game 3 has revolved around star Joel Embiid.
Following a dunk by Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton early in the first quarter, Embiid fell to the court. As Claxton stepped over him, Embiid then lashed out with a retaliatory kick.
After a video review, the referees determined that Embiid committed a flagrant foul 1. A flagrant foul 2 would have resulted in an ejection.
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Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts during the first half of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center in New York City on Thursday. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Later in the game, Philadelphia guard James Harden was thrown out of the game after he swung his arm whille dribbling and made contact with Nets forward Royce O’Neale’s groin.
Officials reviewed the play and called Harden for a flagrant foul 2.
“Based on the point of contact directly to the groin, it rose to the level of excessive and ejection,” crew chief Tony Brothers said.
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Some believe that Embiid should have suffered the same fate as his teammate Harden did in Game 3. Hall of Famers Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley are among those that feel Embiid’s actions warranted an ejection.
During Thursday’s broadcast of TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” O’Neal and Barkley compared Embiid’s kick to Golden State Warrior star Draymond Green’s stomp on the chest of the Sacramento Kings’ Domantas Sabonis from earlier in the week. Green was ejected from the game against the Kings and was also forced to serve a one-game suspension.
“I thought [Embiid] should have been ejected. I thought that was a Flagrant 2. I think his was worse than Draymond’s,” Barkley said on the show.
“…I thought he tried to kick [Claxton] in his private parts. He should have gotten ejected.”
“Thank you,” O’Neal added.
Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts toward referee Nick Buchert during the first half of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center in New York City on Thursday. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Despite trailing with around two minutes left, the Sixers went on to win and take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series. Embiid delivered a pivotal block on Spencer Dinwiddie’s layup attempt in the closing seconds of the game.
Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles against Dorian Finney-Smith of the Brooklyn Nets during the first half of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs at Barclays Center in New York City on Thursday. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
The NBA has not announced any additional punishment for Embiid as a result of the kick.
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Game 4 between the 76ers and the Nets is set to tip off Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.
Chantz Martin is a sports writer for Fox News Digital.