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Joel Embiid scores 44 points as Sixers beat Cavs to clinch playoff berth


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Joel Embiid had 44 points and 17 rebounds, James Harden recorded his second triple-double with Philadelphia, and the 76ers secured a playoff berth with a 112-108 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night.

Embiid was questionable entering the game with a sore ankle. But not only did the 7-footer play, Embiid dominated the stretch, scoring 12 points in a key fourth-quarter stretch.

He also made 17 of 20 free throws, added five blocks and three assists in another CV MVP builder’s 38 minutes. Embiid also made three 3-pointers.

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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) reacts after returning the ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Cleveland.
(AP Photo/David Dermer)

Harden had a non-shooting night (4 of 13), but finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Darius Garland scored 23 goals and Caris LeVert and Lamar Stevens scored 18 apiece for the Cavs, who played without injuries to Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

Cleveland, trying to hold on to the No. 7 play-in spot, was still 109-106 after Harden made two free throws with 11.2 seconds left.

But Kevin Love made a reckless pass which was stolen by Matisse Thybulle, who then passed from a seated position to a striated Tobais Harris for a sealing dunk with 7.2 seconds left.

Nothing came easy on offense for the Sixers, who made 21 3-pointers and scored a season-high 144 points in a win over Charlotte on Saturday. But Embiid bailed out his teammates with the kind of performance you expect from the All-Star.

ADVICE

76ers: Attempted 42 free throws. … F Paul Millsap, a 15-year veteran, has played just eight minutes in the last five games. Millsap has only played four games since signing DeAndre Jordan on March 3. … Philadelphia is playing three of its last four regular season games on the road. … Coach Doc Rivers praised Cavs guard Rajon Rondo, who played for him in Boston. “The brightest player I’ve ever been around,” Rivers said. “He kept us (coaches) on our toes.”

Cavaliers: Rondo (ankle) played for the first time since March 12. … Allen missed his 15th straight game and Mobley played his fourth straight game. Coach JB Bickerstaff said both are improving, but didn’t say when — or if — either will be back before the regular season ends in a week. … Garland is one of three players in the NBA’s top 10 in assists and minutes. Dallas’ Harden and Luka Doncic are the others. … Love played a team-high 71 games, including 66 off the bench.

EM(BIID)-VP TALK

Rivers campaigned for Embiid to win MVP honors this season among a worthy group of candidates. For the Sixers coach, Embiid’s passing, defense and leadership are overlooked parts of his well-balanced game.

“I know he’s my guy, obviously,” Rivers said. “He just did so many things.”

Rivers credits Embiid with leading the Sixers through “the Ben Simmons saga.”

“He was our second-best player at the time and was out, and on the All-Star break when we made the trade, we were one game away from first place in the East,” Rivers said. “There’s a lot to be said for that.”

FOLLOWING

76ers: Play Indiana on Tuesday.

Riders: Visit Orlando on Tuesday.


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