Tyrese Maxey powers shorthanded 76ers to impressive win over Heat without Joel Embiid, James Harden

PHILADELPHA — The Philadelphia 76ers were without their two established superstars in Joel Embiid and James Harden against the Miami Heat on Monday night, but their budding young star, Tyrese Maxey, stepped up in major fashion and propelled Philadelphia to an unlikely 113- 106 win over the top-ranked team in the Eastern Conference.

It was the Sixers’ second night in a row, and with Embiid nursing a sore back and Harden still dealing with lingering hamstring strain, the team opted to give them both some well-deserved rest before the game. start of playoff play next month. As such, the Heat were heavily favored and Philly fan expectations were tempered early in the evening. Maxey heard none of this, however, as he made sure to put on a show in the absence of his teammates.

Maxey was limited to just eight points in the first half thanks to early fouls, but it was in the second half that he really came to life, hitting big shot after big shot when the team desperately needed of its production. In the end, Maxey had 28 points, five rebounds, four assists, an entire arena chanting his name, and his teammates going wild on the sideline.

Maxey largely made his mark in the game on the offensive end – he scored 13 points (on 5-of-5 shooting from the floor) in the fourth quarter alone. However, his most memorable game probably came on the other end when he punctuated his performance with a game-sealing monster block on Caleb Martin:

This game was indicative of the energy and effort Maxey brings to the Sixers every night. His transformation from a promising player as a rookie to a budding star in his second year was something of a revelation for the team, and at just 21 he is still a long way from a finished product. This is precisely why everyone in the organization is so high on him, and why he was virtually untouchable in trade talks leading up to last month’s deadline.

“He’s a hell of a player,” Heat forward Jimmy Butler said of Maxey after the game. “Obviously the way he scored the ball in the fourth and throughout the game. Shooting assists and making good plays, he’s done that all year, I hear how hard he works and I definitely respect him and his game. He’s going to be in this league for a long time.”

Heat center Bam Adebayo added of Maxey: “He’s bouncing around. He’s got that look in his eye. You can tell he wants those big moments, he wants to take those big hits.”

While Maxey was the main catalyst for Philadelphia’s victory on Monday night, he was far from the only reason. Shake Milton (20 points, six assists, five rebounds) had his best game of the season, and Furkan Korkmaz came on and had 18 points and six rebounds for Philly, despite being almost completely out of the game. rotation of the team for the last two weeks. He deserves some credit for staying prepared.

On the other side of things, the Heat got solid production from their big three of Butler (27 points, six assists, five rebounds), Adebayo (22 points, nine rebounds, three blocks) and Kyle Lowry (20 points, six rebounds). , six assists), but ultimately their combined contributions weren’t enough to avoid what must be a somewhat disappointing loss. When you’re the best team in the conference, you want to take care of business against a team as shorthanded as the Sixers were on Monday night. They’ll surely come back and watch a movie, but overall it’s not going to be a game the Heat want to dwell on.

The Sixers, on the other hand, can take a lot of positives from their performance – mainly how guys like Milton, Korkmaz and of course Maxey were able to contribute. Even Paul Millsap (five points, four rebounds) has been surprisingly solid in his stint as the team’s starting center in Embiid’s absence.

Depth has been one of Philadelphia’s biggest concerns since Harden’s arrival last month, as their play off the bench has been inconsistent to say the least. For example, they had just 14 total bench points in their 93-88 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night. That certainly wasn’t the case Monday night, as the second unit had 46 points.

Going forward, the key for Philadelphia will be finding a way to get productive performances from their role players like they did against the Heat when Embiid and Harden are in the lineup. If the Sixers can do that, their pre-playoff cap will be significantly higher.

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