Tyrese Maxey Is the X-factor the Sixers Have Been Waiting For

76ers Raptors Basketball
Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) drives against Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes (4) during the second half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

Tyrese Maxey was fantastic against the Raptors in the Sixers’ first-round matchup. Maxey will have to step it up even further as they face the Heat. With Joel Embiid suffering an orbital fracture and a concussion, the star backcourt duo of Maxey and Harden will need to step it up. However, with Harden seemingly still dealing with limitations from his hamstring injury, the clear X-Factor coming into the series is Tyrese Maxey.

In the Toronto Raptors series, Maxey averaged 21.3 points per game paired with 4.8 assists per game and 4.7 rebounds per game, all of which are higher than his regular-season averages of 17.5 points per game, 4.3 assists per game and 3.2 rebounds per game. His percentages this year have also been elite in the playoffs. He’s currently shooting 51.1% from the field, 40.5% from deep, and 95.0% from the free-throw line, shooting his way into the 50/40/90 group in the playoffs. It’s clear from these stats that Maxey has turned up to another level these playoffs, and no game showed it clearer than in games 1 and 6.

More importantly to the Sixers’ playoff success, the Sixers are 4-0 when Tyrese Maxey scores 19 or more points, meaning the second-year guard out of Kentucky’s scoring is a direct indicator of winning. Maxey set the tone in game 1, scoring 38 points with four assists and two rebounds. In game 6, Maxey scored 25 points but tied his career-high in assists with 8.

Against Miami, there’s going to be a lot of attention on James Harden from the Miami Heat, with ex-Sixer and elite defender Jimmy Butler more than likely matching up with him. This leaves Maxey a little more open in a position where he can try and lead the Sixers with his elite scoring ability.

Beyond just scoring, though, Maxey’s passing ability through these playoffs has clearly grown a ton. In 4 of the six games, Maxey has topped four assists, something he hasn’t been doing all season as he’s been more of a scorer. However, with this added playmaking, Maxey is once again evolving in front of our eyes.

At the end of the day, the 76ers are going to miss the true MVP in Joel Embiid. However, the 76ers’ season isn’t over completely, thanks to the hands of Tyrese Maxey, one of the best young players in the entire league.