76ers win thriller, Rockets overcome Harden struggles to move 3-0 ahead

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The Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks are poised to reach the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Philadelphia claimed a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference opening-round series after topping the Brooklyn Nets 112-108 away from home on Saturday.

The 76ers prevailed in Brooklyn without star Jimmy Butler, who was ejected for a scuffle with Jared Dudley in the third quarter.

In the end, it was Mike Scott who hit the big shot to seal the deal for Philadelphia down the stretch.

Joel Embiid was listed as doubtful for the game, but suited up and put on a monstrous performance with 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and six blocks.

Brooklyn were led by Caris LeVert, who scored 25 points as a starter, as the Nets head into Tuesday's Game 5 in Philadelphia facing an uphill battle to stay alive.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks moved 3-0 ahead against the Detroit Pistons after claiming a 119-103 victory in the east.

Not even the return of Blake Griffin – who posted a game-high 27 points – was enough to make things interesting for the Pistons. Griffin did post a game-high 27 points though.

MVP candidate Antetokounmpo did not record his usual numbers finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Eastern Conference's top seed.

Reigning MVP James Harden struggled from the field, missing his first 15 field-goal attempts but the Rockets still edged the Utah Jazz 104-101.

Harden finally took the lid off the basket with a fourth quarter dunk, which he followed up with a three-pointer. The Rockets star proceeded to knock down multiple clutch shots and free throws down the stretch in Houston's win.

Harden found other ways to contribute and finished with 22 points, 10 assists and six steals in the contest. He made 14 of his 16 free throw attempts.

Donovan Mitchell had a game-high 34 points for Utah but went cold in the fourth and missed a wide open three-pointer that would have tied the score in the closing seconds, with the Jazz now trailing 3-0 in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets levelled their series with the San Antonio Spurs at 2-2 in the west thanks to a 117-103 win.

Nikola Jokic put up 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for the Nuggets, while LaMarcus Aldridge scored a team-high 24 points for the Spurs – who saw DeMar DeRozan ejected for throwing a ball at an official.


Harris helps 76ers past Nets

Tobias Harris totalled 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists in Philadelphia's win.

Jamal Murray scored 24 points on eight-of-14 shooting for the Nuggets.

Khris Middleton posted a team-high 20 points and nine rebounds for Milwaukee.


Carroll shoots blank

DeMarre Carroll was held scoreless on 0-of-six shooting in Brooklyn's loss.

Gary Harris scored eight points on two-of-nine shooting as the Nuggets won.

Royce O'Neale scored five points on two-of-8 shooting for the Jazz.


DeRozan stars before ejection

DeRozan dropped the hammer on Denver in the fourth quarter.

Ben Simmons soared over the Nets' best rim protector for an emphatic slam.

Donovan Mitchell went up high to finish an alley-oop on the break against Houston.


Celtics at Pacers

The Boston Celtics could be the first team to punch a ticket to the second round by sweeping the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. The Celtics seem to be putting things together. The Pacers simply lack the star power to win at the moment.