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PREVIEW: Joel Embiid ready for boos as 76ers visit Wizards in Game 3

Joel Embiid is bracing for a rough reception Saturday night when the Philadelphia 76ers head down the I-95 corridor to visit the Washington Wizards in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

“I love playing on the road because people boo you and they talk trash,” Embiid said, per The Philadelphia Inquirer. “And for me personally, it makes me play even better just because I want to shut their mouths.”

Embiid has gone a long way toward silencing the Wizards while giving the top-seeded 76ers a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. He is averaging 26 points while shooting a robust 60.7 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from 3-point range.

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Embiid scored 22 points in Philadelphia’s 120-95 victory over eighth-seeded Washington on Wednesday. He has surpassed the 20-point plateau in each of his past seven playoff games.

Fellow All-Star Ben Simmons scored 22 points and added nine rebounds and eight assists in the first three quarters before sitting out the fourth on Wednesday.

“He’s a big guy, and he plays guard,” Wizards’ scoring leader Bradley Beal said of Simmons. “It’s not like he’s a power forward or a center guarding me. He’s very mobile, agile and he’s strong. I think that propels him. And he wants to play defense — he’s a willing defender. You don’t always see that, and he uses it to his advantage.”

Beal scored 33 points in each of the series’ first two games to surpass the 30-point mark in his third straight playoff game dating to April 27, 2018. Beal, however, went 1-for-6 from 3-point range Wednesday, and the Wizards made just 2-of-22 attempts from beyond the arc.

Washington’s Russell Westbrook did not practice Friday, and his availability for Game 3 is in question after he exited Wednesday’s game with an ankle sprain. He received treatment for the injury on Friday, coach Scott Brooks said.

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“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Brooks said.

The former NBA Most Valuable Player’s night wasn’t done after suffering his injury, however. A fan tossed popcorn on his head through a hole in the top of a tunnel to the locker room, an act that enraged Westbrook and resulted in the fan being banned indefinitely from Wells Fargo Center and having his 76ers’ season-ticket membership revoked.

As for his ailing ankle, Westbrook said in his postgame remarks that “hopefully it’ll be better.”

Brooks entertained a glass-half-full approach on Westbrook’s situation after the game.

“I’ve seen him bounce back from some very not-so-good moments where you might think he’s gonna be out for a couple weeks,” Brooks said. “He’s tough, and he’s not happy that he wasn’t able to finish the game. He’s a winning basketball player.”

The Wizards concluded the regular season by playing winning basketball in the nation’s capital. They won their last four home games to end the season before notching a 142-115 victory over the Indiana Pacers in the play-in tournament on May 20.

Philadelphia, which finished 20-16 on the road this season, cruised to a 127-101 win in Washington on March 12. Embiid scored 23 points to help the 76ers complete a three-game season sweep of the Wizards.

–Field Level Media