Joel Embiid's left knee will be a question for the Philadelphia 76ers for the duration of their playoff run, but when he is on the floor, things go extremely well.
Embiid's presence is among the reasons why the 76ers are on the verge of advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals. And they have a shot to do just that Tuesday night when they host the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of their first-round series.
Philadelphia is attempting to reach the semifinals in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1999-2001 during the peak years of coach Larry Brown and Allen Iverson, a stretch that culminated in getting to the NBA Finals in 2001.
If Philadelphia is unable to close it out, the series will return to Brooklyn for Game 6 on Thursday.
The Nets are facing the potential end of a season that surprised many. They were 8-18 through Dec. 5 but went 34-22 from that point to finish 42-40 and grab the sixth seed.
They won Game 1 by showcasing physicality but haven't had many answers for Embiid or anyone else. The Nets have allowed 170 points in the paint in the last three games and Philadelphia has shot 51.4 percent.
While Games 2 and 3 got away from the Nets in the third quarter, a fourth-quarter collapse doomed the Nets in Game 4. Brooklyn held a 101-94 lead with 5:20 left and then allowed an 18-7 run, shot 3-of-8 and committed five turnovers.
One of those turnovers was by Jarrett Allen when Simmons stole the ball from him with five seconds left as Embiid and Harris also surrounded the second-year center.
"For a lot of us, this is our first time playing big minutes in the playoffs," Brooklyn guard Spencer Dinwiddie said. "But we were right there 1/8in Game 4 3/8. We feel like we should've won. We weren't saying this was a learning experience when we won Game 1. So we can't fall back on that now. We need to try to pull off something incredible."
The Nets have never overcome a three games-to-one deficit in their NBA history.
Besides trying to stop Embiid, the Nets will hope to get a big night from D'Angelo Russell, who is averaging 22.3 points in the series but shooting 39 percent. >> Read more
Copyright 2019 by the Associated Press