TORONTO – Are the 76ers closing in on their first playoff series sweep in 31 years? Or will the Toronto Raptors somehow find a way to extend the series?

We’ll find out at 2 p.m. Saturday in Game 4 of their opening-round series. The Sixers took a commanding 3-0 advantage in the best-of-seven series with a 104-101 overtime victory in Game 3 Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena.

Joel Embiid buried a turnaround, fadeaway three-pointer right before the shot clock expired to put the Sixers up, 104-101, with 0.8 seconds to play. OG Anunoby misfired on his three-point attempt at the buzzer and Philly escaped with the victory.

“That’s the MVP of the league right there,” James Harden said of Embiid.

» READ MORE: Joel Embiid triumphed in more ways than one with game-winning shot to defeat the Raptors

This marked Embiid’s first career game-tying or go-ahead field goal in the game’s final second. He had been 0-14 in those opportunities before Wednesday night.

“I knew the ball was going to him,” Tyrese Maxey said. “When he caught it, I don’t know. I don’t know. I have nothing to say. That was crazy, man. Joel is Joel.”

Danny Green inbounded the ball on the play. Tobias Harris set a screen on Precious Achiuwa, freeing up Embiid for a 27-footer. He caught the pass and immediately turned around and buried the shot over a charging Fred VanVleet. Embiid jumped into Harris’ arms before doing to celebratory skip to the Sixers bench.

“That’s one of my favorite spots,” Embiid said. “I just missed from right there to end the game. Great play call. Tobias set an amazing screen. Danny had a great pass. So all I had to do really was finish it, and I’m glad I did.”

Embiid finished with game highs of 33 points and 13 rebounds. Harden had 19 points and 10 assists before fouling out late in regulation. Maxey added 19 points and Harris had 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Anunoby paced the Raptors with 26 points. Toronto standout Pascal Siakam had 12 points, but was held scoreless after intermission while guarded by Embiid.

The Sixers trailed by five (95-90) with 2 minutes, 03 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. They closed regulation on a 5-0 to force overtime. They Sixers took their first lead of the game 11 second into overtime on Maxey’s reverse driving layup. The second-year guard (four points) and Embiid (five) combined to score all of the Sixers’ overtime points.

» READ MORE: Sixers coach Doc Rivers added more accolades to his long list of career accomplishments

“I have to think about this, but that’s about as tough a loss as I can remember here for my time,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “Obviously if we pull that thing out, we got ourselves a series and instead you got yourself a really deep hole to dig out of.”

No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. Only three series have gone to a seventh game after one team opened with a 3-0 lead.

The last time the Sixers swept an opponent was when they beat the Milwaukee Bucks 3-0 in a best-of-five, first-round series in 1991. The last time they swept a best-of-seven series was when they prevailed 4-0 in the second round against the Bucks in 1985. The NBA’s first-round playoff series went to a best-of-seven format in 2003.

This game marked the Raptors’ first playoff game at Scotiabank Arena since they won the 2019 NBA title. Toronto didn’t make last season’s playoffs. But even if it did, the Raptors played their home games in Tampa, Fla., in the 2020-21 season because of COVID-19 restrictions in Canada. And while they made the 2020 postseason, games were played in the Walt Disney World bubble.

For the Sixers, this marked their first playoff game in Toronto since Kawhi Leonard’s 15-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer lifted the Raptors to a 92-90 victory in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Back then, Embiid left the court in tears after the first buzzer-beater in a Game 7 in league history. This time he was the hero.

He and his teammates were without Matisse Thybulle, their best perimeter defender. The guard was not permitted in Canada because he is unvaccinated.

Late-game flow

Harden split a pair of foul shots with 49.7 seconds left to knot the score at 95. But the point guard was called for his sixth foul with 27.2 seconds remaining. However, Sixers coach Doc Rivers called a timeout to challenge the call. The challenge was unsuccessful and Harden had to leave the game.

Precious Achiuwa, who was fouled on the play, missed both free-throw attempts. Georges Niang, who subbed in for Harden, grabbed he defensive rebound and Rivers called a timeout.

Embiid misfired on a three-point attempt. Harris grabbed the rebound and appeared to be fouled several times while missing the put-back before time expired on the clock. As a result, the game went to overtime.

» READ MORE: Best and worst from Sixers-Raptors: Joel Embiid’s first game-winner, horrendous turnovers and more

Embiid’s turnaround

Early on, Embiid lacked the domination he displayed in Games 1 and 2. The MVP finalist was held to five first-half points on 2-for-5 shooting. His first made basket came on a driving layup in the first quarter. Embiid’s second basket was an alley-oop dunk on an assist from Harden in the second quarter.

The Raptors double- and triple-teamed him at times. Yet, Embiid still had several good shot attempts. He just was unable to convert them. Embiid, who was booed whenever he touched the ball, also was doomed by turnovers.

He woke up in the third quarter, though. That’s when this season’s scoring champion scored 18 of the Sixers’ 24 points on drives to the basket, jumpers and foul shots. Adding his assist on Niang’s three-pointer, Embiid accounted for 75% of his team’s points in the quarter.

He made 6 of 9 shots and went 5-for-7 from the foul line. Embiid also had four rebounds while playing the entire 12 minutes. Down 10 at the half, the Sixers closed to gap to one point (75-74) heading into the fourth quarter.

Paul Reed replaced Embiid at the start of the fourth quarter. Taking advantage, the Raptors scored the first five points while opening the quarter on a 7-2 run to take an 82-76 lead.

Embiid checked back into the game with 9:13 left after Harden picked up his fifth foul. Embiid knotted the score at 82 with 6:40 left. He tied the score again at 87 with a three-pointer with 5:25 remaining.

Turnovers and more turnovers

The solid ballhandling the Sixers had in Game 1 was long forgotten on this night. They were doomed by their turnovers on Wednesday. Some were caused by the Raptors’ double- and triple-teams. Some were a result of Toronto getting hands on the ball. And some were just a result of sloppy play and errant passes by the Sixers.

They committed 24 turnovers, which led to 27 points by the Raptors. Nine of their turnovers came in the first quarter, with Embiid committing four of them. He had six for the game.

Barnes remains sidelined

Scottie Barnes missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle.

“I certainly assume he will be ready for the next game,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Saturday’s Game 4.

Earlier in the day, he was listed doubtful.

» READ MORE: Raptors’ Scottie Barnes will remain sidelined for Game 3 vs. Sixers with a sprained left ankle

“He looks like he’s doing pretty good,” Nurse said following the morning shootaround.

Barnes made progress, just not enough to play in Wednesday’s game.

Meanwhile, Gary Trent Jr., who had been dealing with non-COVID-19 illness, had his best game of the series. He scored 24 points while making 4 of 9 three-pointers.