Game 3 of the 76ers-Nets series saw an increase in physicality and both of the Sixers top stars end up embroiled in controversial plays.
Early in the game, it was Joel Embiid who tried to kick Nic Claxton between the legs when Claxton stepped over the star center following a dunk. That only earned Embiid a Flagrant 1, which led to plenty of debate over whether it should’ve been an ejection, particularly considering what we saw in Sacramento earlier in the week when Draymond Green was ejected and suspended for stomping Domantas Sabonis. Charles Barkley felt Embiid’s actions were worse than Green’s, and that the Sixers star got away with one.
In the late third quarter, after a huge Nets run saw Brooklyn take the lead, James Harden was isolated on Royce O’Neale on the outside when he went to drive and picked up an offensive foul for hitting O’Neale in the junk with his off hand. After a review, the referees determined it was a purposeful hit by Harden and gave him a Flagrant 2 and an ejection.
Harden got ejected after this flagrant 2 foul on Royce O'Neale pic.twitter.com/a2bzAqY1kX
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 21, 2023
It was a stunning ejection, as the general expectation was it would be upgraded to a Flagrant 1 and everyone would move on. Instead, the Sixers had to try and close out Game 3 and stage a comeback without their top table-setter, leading to a rather hilarious reaction from Embiid when the announcement was made.
Josh Hart spoke for everyone when he said no one knows what the difference in a Flagrant 1 and 2 is anymore, given what earned an ejection and what didn’t in Brooklyn on Thursday night.
I don’t think anyone knows what a Flagrant 1 or 2 is lol
— Josh Hart (@joshhart) April 21, 2023
Adding to the drama was in the early fourth quarter when Claxton got his second technical foul for taunting after another dunk, getting sent to the locker room with nine minutes to play in the game.