Philadelphia 76ers rookie Tyrese Maxey set the tone in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series with a triple-double that included 38 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey grabbed the spotlight on Wednesday night with 38 points in a Game 1 win over the Toronto Raptors. The Sixers won the game by a score of 113-104. Read more in detail here: maxey 76ers.
12:00:44 A.M. ET
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The attention in the days building up to the start of the 76ers’ first-round series against the Toronto Raptors was on James Harden’s effectiveness against Toronto’s lengthy, switching defense.
However, another 76ers guard stole the show in Game 1 on Saturday night.
Tyrese Maxey’s 38 points, including a 21-point third-quarter outburst, helped Philadelphia win 131-111 in front of a sellout crowd of 20,610 at Wells Fargo Center. It was just another resounding reminder of how far Maxey has come in his second season.
76ers coach Doc Rivers stated, “His quickness is a factor.” “We understand that we must continue to use him in space. Maybe he’ll drive to pass some evenings. He was driving, getting to the basket, and making shots tonight.”
Maxey exemplified this on Saturday night, shooting 14-for-21 from the field, including 5-for-8 from beyond the arc. While Maxey’s quickness was obvious as a rookie, it’s his improved jump shooting that has allowed him to expand his game. He improved from a low-volume, 30% 3-point shooter in his rookie season to a 42 percent 3-point shooter on over four tries per game in his sophomore season.
Maxey displayed all aspects of his game on Saturday night, banging down rim shots, blasting past Toronto’s defense to get to the hoop, and getting to the foul line, where he went 6-for-7.
The Sixers are known for playing slower than their opponents, but Maxey was instrumental in their transition game on Saturday, as the team made a concentrated attempt to get out and run. There was no greater illustration of this than in the third quarter, when Harden connected a sprinting Maxey for a layup, similar to a quarterback hitting a wide receiver on a go route.
“You have to reward him because he’s sprinting,” Harden added. “He is a fantastic finisher. He makes the correct decision. So I’m simply trying to persuade him to continue.”
In the series opener, Maxey’s performance was just one of several highlights for Philadelphia. Harden didn’t have the sort of explosion in the paint that the 76ers were looking for, shooting 2-for-10 on 2-point attempts, but he still ended with 22 points. His famous step-back 3-pointers were a big part of it, as he went 4-for-7 from outside the arc. Harden also grabbed five rebounds and dished out 14 assists while only committing one turnover.
Meanwhile, Joel Embiid struggled to make jumpers, shooting 5-for-15, but he was a powerful force on the interior, ending with 19 points and 15 rebounds, including four offensive rebounds. He also contributed four assists and did not commit any turnovers.
“I mean, it all begins with me,” Embiid said. “Not becoming irritated. All night, they kept sending double and triple squads at me, so I sort of let them in. Just trying to make the best decision possible in order to win. That’s what I said. I think it’s all about me making the right plays over and over again, and I thought I was pretty good tonight after playing against them for so long, especially against the same coach. I know how they think and how they want to play, especially defensively, so I think it’s all about me making the right plays over and over again.”
Tobias Harris, meanwhile, scored 26 points on 9-for-14 shooting, six rebounds, and six assists, and Philadelphia as a team overturned many of Toronto’s apparent advantages heading into this game. Philadelphia had just four turnovers compared to the Raptors’ seven, and outrebounded the Raptors 10-7 in offensive rebounds, two areas the Raptors were expected to dominate.
“It was a terrific game for certain people individually,” Harden said. “Then, for the team, I believe we did a fantastic job tonight of rebounding the basketball, not handing the ball over, and providing them chances, which we spoke about this week.”
Maxey demonstrated again Saturday how important he has become to Philadelphia’s title hopes after taking over as the team’s starting point guard during training camp when Ben Simmons didn’t show up after requesting a trade, and then seamlessly slotting in next to Harden after Simmons was sent to Brooklyn.
“Tyrese is fantastic,” Harris said. “He’s got game, and he’s a hard worker.”
“He understands, after all. He recognizes that you put in the effort and that fantastic things will happen for you tonight. Tonight, for example, was proof of that.”
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