Joel Embiid inspired the 76ers with his return from a facial injury, Danny Green and Tyrese Maxey each scored 21 points and Philadelphia beat the Miami Heat 99-79 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Friday night.

Wearing a black mask, Embiid had 18 points and 11 rebounds after missing the first two games of the series.

Jimmy Butler scored 33 points for the Heat, who lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday in Philadelphia.

Embiid missed the first two games with a right orbital fracture and a minor concussion suffered in the last round. Embiid wasn’t the dominant force he was all season. With Green, Maxey and James Harden crushing Heat rallies with big buckets, Embiid didn’t have to carry the Sixers.

But the 76ers were glad he was back.

“Any plan where you can have Joel as part of the plan is a much better plan,” coach Doc Rivers said before the game.

Even Rivers couldn’t devise a plan that included the play that helped define the game: Maxey sprinted all the way to save a basketball with an overhand throw. The 76ers kept the ball and Embiid buried a missed bucket and made the free throw for an 86-74 lead.

Embiid was good. Green was better and who hit 6 of 7 triples.

, highlighted by those who snuffed out Miami’s runs and extended the Sixers’ lead to 54-50 and 57-51. Green missed 9 of 10 3-pointers in Game 2.

However, Tyler Herro had two critical 3-pointers in the final minute and led the Heat within 68-65 to close out the third. He had 14 and joined Butler as the only Heat in double figures.

Maxey’s final 3-pointer made it 92-77, and suddenly the Sixers have new life in the series.

The 76ers have never won a playoff series in 19 tries after losing the first two games.

The return of the NBA scoring champion helps those odds.

 

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