With Joel Embiid sidelined due to right knee injury recovery, the Philadelphia 76ers needed someone else to step up against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night, and Tyrese Maxey was ready to do so. After starting the season 1-4 and previously dropping a game in Toronto on Wednesday, the Sixers were in search of a bounce back win. Maxey knew that, and he absolutely exploded.
The third-year guard came out blazing right out of the gate. He scored the first basket of the game with a 3-ball from the corner, and then he proceeded to connect on three more shots from long distance in the first quarter. He finished the opening quarter with 14 points on five-of-five shooting from the floor. His early production set the pace for Philadelphia and allowed the Sixers to build a lead that they were ultimately able to maintain. In fact, Toronto never led in the game.
Maxey followed up his flawless first quarter with another blemish-free frame. He added 13 more points in the second quarter, all while remaining perfect from the field. Heading into halftime, he boasted a stat line of 27 points on 10 of 10 shooting. In the process, Maxey became the first Sixers player ever to start a game seven of seven from beyond the arc. He also became the first Sixers player to convert his first ten shots in a game since Lou Williams did so back in 2010.
In the second half, Maxey added 17 more points to bring his grand total to 44 on 15 of 20 shooting from the floor and nine of 12 from deep. With that production, he tied Danny Green and Dana Barros for most 3's made in a single game in franchise history. He also added eight rebounds, four assists and a steal, and he finished with a game high +29 in his 40 minutes of action. Thanks largely to his play, Philadelphia was able to pull out a 112-90 victory with their All-Star center watching from the sideline in street clothes.
While clearly the most notable, Maxey obviously wasn't the only contributor in the win for Philly. Tobias Harris and De'Anthony Melton, who started in Embiid's absence, both recorded 13 points and five rebounds, and James Harden added 11 points and four assists. As a team, the Sixers exhibited more energy than they did in their previous performances, and that was a big factor in the victory -- they simply looked more engaged and more cohesive than they did on Wednesday night.
Pascal Siakam led the way for Toronto with 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and O.G. Anunoby added 19 points and nine rebounds. With the win, the Sixers moved to 2-4 on the young season, while the Raptors slipped to 3-3.
These are exactly the type of performances Philadelphia was hoping to get from Maxey this season following the major jump that he made last season. There's a reason he was included on my list ofthis season.
"The biggest inflection point is, probably, we need Maxey to take another step forward," Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said of Maxey prior to the start of the season. "And he can do it. He's putting the work in... His rookie year was way ahead of schedule. His second year was way, way ahead of schedule, and to ask him to do another leap forward is asking a lot, but we do need it. I wouldn't be surprised if he does it given how much time he puts in."
The Sixers still have a lot of work to do, but Maxey's virtuoso performance against Toronto was a nice distraction from what has been an otherwise underwhelming start to the season for Philadelphia. Perhaps it will serve as a jumping off point for the Sixers to start playing some better basketball moving forward.