Without Joel Embiid for the first two games of the series, there wasn't much faith that the Philadelphia 76ers had any chance of beating the Miami Heat in Round 2.
But after capturing a victory in Game 3, there is newfound hope in how far the Sixers can go.
And while they avoided a 3-0 deficit on Friday, Philly still has their work cut out for them if they want to move on -- and Joel Embiid is more focused now than he's ever been.
“We’re down 2-1. We got a long way to go. Twitter has nothing to do with basketball. It’s just me, my personality, having fun. It doesn’t matter the circumstances. Good or bad, I’m always gonna try and have fun. We’re not back up. Not even close. We’re down 2-1. We can’t go down 3-1 so we really need this game on Sunday.”
After Game 3, Tyrese Maxey made a similar statement to the media, preaching patience and focus on the task at hand.
“That game’s over," said Maxey. "Now, it’s a new day. Sunday will be a new day and we just gotta bring the fight to them again. I said it after Game 2, just go straight at them. Go straight at them and don’t play with him and attack them. Attack them and try to put them on their heels instead of being the counterpunching team.”
“We dropped two that we didn’t wanna drop. We weren’t able to get one in Miami and to come home and protect home court is huge and we haven’t really done anything yet. It’s one game, it’s down the drain, and we play again on Sunday. We’re gonna go out there and try to win another one.”
The odds are not in Philly's favor. Teams that win the first two games of a series go on to win most of the time. And with Embiid not at his best, someone else will have to step up and provide the spark they may lack on both ends of the floor.
Still, you've got to be feeling good if you're a Sixers fan. Embiid is back and still makes a huge impact, the team is in the right mindset, and the Miami Heat are far from the powerhouse team they once were.
Game 4 tips off at 8 p.m. tonight, and it could determine the fate of the series.