Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
The Philadelphia 76ers averted a 3-0 win in the Eastern Conference semifinals at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday, thanks largely to 21-year-old point guard Tyrese Maxey, against the Miami Heat.
The Sixers led by double digits about midway through the third quarter, but the Heat managed to close the gap to be just a three-point deficit in the fourth quarter. In the last frame, Maxey made himself known.
After scoring just seven points in the first three quarters, Maxey picked up 14 points in the fourth on 5-of-5 shooting with four threes. His energy and youthful enthusiasm clearly ignited the Sixers as they finished the game.
Online fans couldn’t help but praise Maxey for saving Philadelphia from the possibility of a sweep.
Krystle Rich Bell @Krystle Rich
Maxey MUST be an All-Star next season. He is unbelievable #SixersOutsiders
Maxey’s 21 points tied with Danny Green for a team high. Sixers star center Joel Embiid had 18 points and 11 rebounds in his first game after suffering a concussion and facial injuries. James Harden put in another quiet performance with 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists and seven turnovers.
In his second season away from Kentucky, Maxey emerged as a key player for the Sixers in the absence of Ben Simmons before being traded into a package for Harden. Maxey jumped from averaging 8.0 points as a rookie to 17.5 points this year while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from three-point range. He’s now averaging 24.7 points in the conference semifinals.
It feels like Philadelphia has one more step up its sleeve if it hopes to get past the top-Seed Heat. But Friday’s win was a step in the right direction, and it’s clear the Sixers need Maxey to bring him every night if they hope to end the upset.