Raptors vs. 76ers Game 3 score: Joel Embiid dominates as Philadelphia blows out Toronto to take 2-1 series lead

The Philadelphia 76ers carried the momentum from their Game 2 win against the Toronto Raptors back to Philadelphia, where they put on an absolute clinic on both ends of the court to take Game 3 on Thursday, 116-95.

The story of the game was Joel Embiid, who put up a monster stat line of 33 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in the win to lead six 76ers in double-figures. The Raptors received strong games from Kawhi Leonard (33 points) and Pascal Siakam (20 points), but the game was never really close after the second quarter as the Sixers pulled off the wire-to-wire win.

Philly now leads the series 2-1, with Game 4 set for Sunday afternoon. Here are three takeaways from Game 3:

Talent gap

When Tobias Harris was traded to Philadelphia, it became pretty widely accepted that the Sixers had just assembled what was probably the second-most talented starting five in the league. There were questions about the depth and the fit, and perhaps those things will still pop up as this series continues. But right now, the Sixers are winning this series because, flat out, they have more talent. And talent has a way of making things fit. 

Yes, Kawhi Leonard is the best player in this series. But after that? You could argue that four of Philly's five starters are better than Toronto's second-best player, Pascal Siakam, and that is showing more than ever. A ton has been made about Marc Gasol and all the things he has brought to Toronto, but Embiid is just way better. Kyle Lowry is an All-Star, but right now, Ben Simmons is better. Siakam is going to be an All-Star soon, but Jimmy Butler is better. Danny Green is still good, but Harris is better. 

I picked Toronto to win the series, but I'd be lying if I said I was still confident in that. If they do, it'll be because they fit better and Leonard is potentially good enough to cancel out a lot of the Sixers' advantages. But man against man, the Sixers have better players. I did not give that enough attention in thinking about this series. 

This Joel Embiid changes everything

Mark Jackson said on the TV broadcast that, barring injury, Embiid is going to be in the conversation with the greatest big men of all-time. Jeff Van Gundy went "pump your brakes" crazy, but really, is it that crazy? There was a time when Jackson said Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were the greatest shooting backcourt of all-time, and people thought he was nuts. He wasn't. 

See the thing is, if you wait until something is obvious to make a statement, then you're not really making any kind of a statement. Embiid is a complete monster, and he's the reason why the Sixers are now in control of this series. He looks healthy. Energetic. He's playing with such a balance of jump-shooting, posting and putting the ball on the floor. He went for 33 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks on 3-of-4 shooting from 3, and he did it all in 28 minutes. And now that you have defenders thinking about him sticking those 3-pointers, he does this:

Embiid had a couple down games by his standards to start the series, but in Game 3 he was decisive. That was the key. When he shot the 3, he shot it with confidence and rhythm. When he put it on the floor, he just went. When he posted, he went quickly but not in a hurry (hat tip John Wooden). When Embiid is playing like this, on both ends, there are two certainties: The Raptors are in trouble, and Mark Jackson is right. 

The Butler did it

Jimmy Butler was nowhere to be found in Game 1, and the Sixers lost. Since then he's put up 52 points, 20 rebounds and 14 assists over Games 2 and 3, both Sixers wins. Butler is so important because he's the main perimeter creator in the half-court, where Simmons' inability to shoot can really screw with spacing and pace. Butler is great in the two-man game with Embiid because he draws defenders in a way Simmons doesn't off the bounce, like here:

He attacked in early offense:

He flew around defensively:

Butler is arguably the second-most important player for Philly behind Embiid. He gives them the shot creation they lack elsewhere against set defenses. When he's this good, Philly is a different team. 

Dirty plays

There were two. First, in In the second quarter, Ben Simmons delivered a pretty obvious cheap shot into Kyle Lowry's groin area and managed to get away with it. As you'll see below, Lowry had boxed Simmons out deep under the basket, and once the shot was missed and play was moving to the other end, Simmons made his move.

Lowry was incensed and made his case through the next possession, after Norman Powell had connected on a 3-pointer on the other end for the Raptors, but no call was made. ESPN brought its officiating expert, Steve Javie, on the broadcast, and he said too much time had passed for the officials to go back and assess a flagrant foul, which would have given Toronto two foul shots and possession. The league can go back and assess a flagrant after the fact, which would go on Simmons' total for the playoffs, but that doesn't do Toronto any good.

The second play looked even worse, with Siakam pretty blatantly sticking his leg out and tripping Embiid. 

Siakam did not get away with this, as he received a flagrant-1, but you have to wonder if maybe the league will look a little deeper at this and consider a suspension. In fact, speaking of suspensions, that Simmons plays doesn't look all that much different from the one that got Draymond Green suspended from Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals, after Green took a shot at LeBron's groin area in Game 4. We'll see. 

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No. 2 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers

How to watch Game 4

  • Date: Sunday, May 5
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Wells Fargo Center -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • TV channel: ABC
  • Live stats: GameTracker  
  • Online streaming: WatchESPN 
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