NEW YORK -- Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid started Game 4 against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday after being listed as doubtful with soreness in his left knee and was instrumental in the Sixers' 112-108 victory to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven first-round playoff series.
"He was dominant," Sixers coach Brett Brown said after Embiid put up 31 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 blocks and 2 steals. "He was dominant. There are times you could see it's still raw and there were some decisions that he would probably like to have over again, but given the volume of playing time lately that he hasn't had, it's just a dominant performance. What more can you say?"
Embiid played 32 minutes in Game 4 after totaling just 45 minutes combined in Games 1 and 2. The Sixers outscored the Nets by 18 points with Embiid on the court Saturday.
"Just trying to live in the paint," Embiid said. "They're going to have to double-team me. I figured that out. They're going to have to send two or three guys, so in that type of situation and if they're going to guard me in single coverage, I'm going to dominate and I'm also going to make the right pass. So that's my job, but we found it."
Embiid did most of his damage late, scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter -- one shy of his playoff high for a quarter and his most in a fourth quarter of a playoff game, according to data compiled by ESPN Stats & Information.
Embiid attempted 11 of his 12 field goals in the paint in the fourth and also assisted on Mike Scott's go-ahead 3-pointer with 19.7 seconds left. The Sixers outscored the Nets 27-17 in the final frame.
"It was great," Philadelphia forward Tobias Harris said of Embiid. "We fed him down on the block. We knew that was the biggest mismatch on the court and he's our best player, the most dominant big man in the game. We just had to let him go eat out there."
Embiid became the sixth player with a 30-point, 15-rebound, 5-assist, 5-block game in the playoffs since blocks became an official stat in 1973-74, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The previous player to do it? Sixers general manager Elton Brand, when his LA Clippers played the Phoenix Suns in May 2006.
"He's a player," Sixers guard Ben Simmons said of Embiid. "He's ready to play, ready to come in and do his job. It's just his mindset, I think. Just knowing his size and his ability to put the ball in the rim and make plays, I think he's always just ready. And he works a lot."
Embiid, who missed 14 of the Sixers' 24 games after the All-Star break, sat out Philadelphia's 131-115 win in Game 3.
The Sixers announced Embiid was playing Saturday approximately 15 minutes before tipoff. His last-minute playing-status announcements have caused Nets coach Kenny Atkinson consternation.
"We find out their starting lineup with about five minutes to go," Atkinson said before Game 4. "I don't know, but somehow we got to figure that one out as media, league."
"Normally I'd give it [with] 60 [minutes remaining] on the clock [before tipoff], but I'm not going to do that again," Atkinson said.
Brown said there was no gamesmanship on Philadelphia's part when it comes to Embiid's status.
"Maybe there is [a tactical advantage] but it's certainly not calculated," Brown said. "There's not a clandestine motive behind this. It is what it is. We've been doing this long enough that I bet most people believe me. This is just the way that it has played out. So, from a tactical standpoint, I mean what I just said: Neither do I [know if Embiid is playing]. [Atkinson and I] can text each other five minutes before [tipoff] and compare notes."
Embiid's minutes were limited in the first two games of the series, which Philadelphia split 1-1 on its home floor, and the All-Star big man was a late scratch for Game 3 after finishing a warm-up about 30 minutes prior to tipoff.
On Friday, after launching some casual 3-pointers while wearing slippers, Embiid laced up his sneakers and worked with a team trainer and assistant coach Monty Williams on a side court during the portion of practice that was open to the media.
The Sixers will have a chance to close out the series Tuesday in Philadelphia in Game 5.
"It feels great to be up 3-1," Embiid said before not being able to stop himself from poking fun at the back-to-back defending champion Golden State Warriors. "And so we definitely don't want to be in the situation like the Warriors [three] years ago [when the Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit in the Finals]. I was kidding. We want to be able to close it at home. So that was a big win. We just got to go home and not let them have another chance."