Game Three Of The Philadelphia 76ers And Brooklyn Nets Series Got Very Physical

76ers guard James Harden

Getty Image / Sarah Stier

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 20: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles against Royce O'Neale #00 of the Brooklyn Nets during the first half of Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs at Barclays Center on April 20, 2023 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

A common refrain among critics of the contemporary NBA is that the game isn’t nearly as physical as it once was. I’m not sure how true that ultimately is, as players now are bigger, faster, and stronger, which means harder collisions. Yes, the game isn’t played as much in the paint with big men banging for positions down low, and hand checks are removed. And, there are harsh penalties for fouls deemed unnecessary and unsportsmanlike. But, last night’s game three between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets was very chippy.

The two rivals were squaring off in the Barclays Center in Brookyln, with the 76ers coming in with a 2-0 series lead. Early in the game, 76ers star and likely NBA MVP Joel Embiid kicked Nets center Nik Claxton in the groin. But, Embiid wasn’t ejected, instead given a flagrant 1 foul.

Many thought that Embiid should have been ejected. It comes on the heels of Warriors forward Draymond Green being ejected and suspended for a similar incident involving Kings center Domantas Sabonis on Tuesday.

And, later in the game, 76ers guard James Harden was ejected for this. Yes, ejected.

How was he ejected and Embiid allowed to continue? Yes, the Harden play should have been a flagrant 1, but a flagrant 2 and ejection? No way.

It’s just wildly inconsistent officiating. Nevertheless, the 76ers held off a frisky Nets performance, and took 3-0 series lead, 102-97. It remains to be seen if the NBA will hand out any extra penalties to Harden and Embiid.