National Basketball Association roundup: Embiid returns as Sixers top Heat

NBAE via Getty Images

NBAE via Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO - Kevin Durant had 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and the Golden State Warriors beat San Antonio 110-97 on Thursday night for a 3-0 series lead over the Spurs, who were still reeling from the death of Gregg Popovich's wife, Erin.

The rotation shuffling might not have a big impact on the Sixers' fate this postseason, given that Simmons was on the bench for less than eight minutes of Game 3.

He averaged 0.96 points per paint touch during the regular season, which ranked No. 7 overall * a href="https://stats.nba.com/players/touches/?sort=PTS_PER_PAINT_TOUCH&dir=1&Season=2017-18&SeasonType=Regular%20Season&PerMode=Totals&CF=PAINT_TOUCHES*GE*400" target="_blank" rel="noopener" *(minimum: 400 paint touches) among high-volume players.

It took him a while in the first half of Game 3 to really get his feet under him on the offensive side but on the defensive side of the ball, he was still a gamechanger.

The rivalry between the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid seems to grow with every passing matchup. He has actually played two more minutes than J.J. Redick.

With the competition on the court, and the drama off of it, this series is quickly becoming one of the most exciting in the playoffs right now.

MIAMI (AP) - Hassan Whiteside's numbers are down.

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Whiteside's diminished minutes in the first two games of the series were due, in part, to the Sixers playing smaller lineups with Joel Embiid (orbital fracture) sidelined. "But that was the only way I could play in this game, if I wore the mask and protected my face with goggles". That's what Coach wants. Coach wants me to just be in the corner and set picks. That's what he wants. So I'm glad I got him back.

The big man's agent, Leon Rose, even consulted with Richard Hamilton, the former National Basketball Association star most well known for playing with a mask, for tips on adapting to the facewear.

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Embiid returned from a facial injury and made his playoff debut in Philadelphia's 128-108 game-three win over the Heat in Miami on Thursday.

The protective lens popped loose, meaning Embiid would need to check out to get it repaired ... and, while it was on the deck, Miami's Justise Winslow made a decision to take a crack at cracking JoJo's Rec Specs.

Embiid said that he has about 50 of those masks (so he doesn't care if the Heat break them), and he said he's going to be a "nightmare" for the Heat the rest of the series.

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