What to know as Sixers try to avoid being swept for first time in over 20 years

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers on Sunday afternoon will try to extend their season and avoid being swept by the Celtics.

Sixers Pregame Live is at 12 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia, while the game will tip off at 1 p.m. on ABC. 

Here are three storylines to watch: 

First things first 

Before addressing the unpleasant questions it appears they’ll face this offseason, the Sixers would first like to, at a minimum, win a game in this series. The team hasn’t been swept since 1999, when the Reggie Miller-led Pacers took care of the Sixers in the second round. 

While the Sixers’ performance was much improved in Game 3 compared to Game 2, there aren’t usually moral victories in the playoffs. That’s especially true with elimination looming. 

“I’m not rolling over,” Brett Brown said Friday night. “I understand, I get it. Everyone would assume this series is over because we’re down 3-0. I’m not trying to be Knute Rockne, but my sincere opinion is we’re going to come in and play the game and get a win.”

Tale of two halves

During first halves this series, Joel Embiid has averaged 19.0 points and shot 59.4 percent from the floor. Those numbers drop to 11.0 points and 29.2 percent in second halves.

He had two turnovers down the stretch of Friday’s loss and was frustrated that he couldn’t lead his team to a win. 

“It sucks, but you can’t give up,” he said. “We can do it. Looking at the game tonight, we couldn’t make a shot. Nothing could go in. I thought defensively, we did a better job. We were good defensively. We had some mistakes in the fourth that we can correct — we’ve gotta lock in. But defensively, we were good. And offensively, nobody could make a shot. You can’t give up. 


“You’ve gotta keep fighting. We’ve gotta play hard. We’ve gotta come in on Sunday. I don’t want to be swept. I don’t want that on my resume. Like I said, I’ll be playing my butt off. I’m going to come in and do everything that I can to make sure that we win a game, and take one game at a time.”

Can’t buy a 3 

Here’s a statistic that goes a long way toward explaining the Sixers’ situation:

Furkan Korkmaz, Tobias Harris and Al Horford were the team’s three top players in terms of made three-pointers during the regular season. They have combined to shoot 0 for 19 from three-point range over the series’ first three games.