The Philadelphia 76ers traveled to Brooklyn Thursday night for a matchup with the conference-leading Nets. Since these two teams faced off earlier this month, Brooklyn has gotten some reinforcements. This time around, the Sixers would have to slow down not only Kevin Durant but James Harden as well.
Despite the Nets having two-thirds of their star-studded big three, the Sixers managed to walk out of Barclays Center with a win. Thanks to another dominant performance by Joel Embiid, they were able to secure a 110-102 victory.
Embiid was not the only Sixer to pull off a big game. Tyrese Maxey has been rather quiet as of late but came alive against the Nets Thursday. He ended the night as the team’s second-leading scorer with 25 points, including knocking down a career-high five made threes.
Going against a duo like Harden and Durant, the Sixers needed more than just a big night from Embiid to stay competitive. Luckily for them, Maxey is never scared of the moment and rose to the occasion.
After the game, Embiid praised Maxey for his big offensive performance. The All-Star center is constantly encouraging him to assertive himself offensively and loved what he saw Thursday.
“He needs to do it every night. He will tell you. I’ve been on him about not just shooting the open ones, just being aggressive and looking for his own shot all year. That’s what he did tonight. He took them, and he made them. He needs to do it every night.” Per Ky Carlin.
Due to circumstances out of his control, Maxey was thrust into a larger role than he expected this season. Since assuming the full-time point guard duties, his play has been up-and-down. This was to be expected as Maxey had to be groomed into a floor general.
Growing as a facilitator came along quicker than many expected. Early in the season, he was improving with each passing game. While he polished one area of his game, it took away from the skills that got him to the NBA in the first place.
Maxey is at his best when looking to put the ball in the hoop. He has proven on numerous occasions the potential is there as a premiere scoring guard in this league. Since entering the Sixers’ starting lineup, Maxey has struggled to find the happy balance between facilitator and scorer.
This problem only arises when the team is fully healthy. When Embiid and Tobias Harris are in the lineup, Maxey defers almost to a fault. Instead of picking his own spots to attack, he tries too hard to facilitate to the stars.
While he is being called on more to run the offense, the Sixers still want Maxey to get shots up on a nightly basis. His ability to get downhill and makes plays at the rim is an element nobody else on the roster can provide. Finding this balance will still take time, but Embiid encouraging Maxey to stay aggressive should make things easier moving forward.