Three observations after Maxey reached a career-high 50, the Sixers win for the eighth straight season originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
For the Sixers, the show had to go on.
However, the unusual circumstances surrounding the team’s Sunday night meeting with the Pacers certainly deserve a mention before diving into a very memorable game. Kelly Oubre Jr. was home because he had been hit by a car the night before and suffered a broken rib.
The Sixers will reevaluate Oubre in about a week after what head coach Nick Nurse called a “pretty traumatic incident.”
Without Oubre, the Sixers earned a 137-126 victory, extending their winning streak to eight games. They improved to 6-0 at the Wells Fargo Center and 8-1 overall.
A bigger deal than that: Tyrese Maxey set a new career high with 50 points on 20-for-32 shooting. He also had seven rebounds, five assists and three blocks in a truly special performance.
Joel Embiid scored 37 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.
Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton had 25 points and 17 assists.
The Sixers host the Pacers again on Tuesday night. Here are observations about the Sixers’ Maxey-led win on Sunday:
Early pick-and-roll perfection
The Sixers’ first few minutes went almost exactly like the beginning of the third quarter in theirs Monday night win against the Wizards.
That meant left wing Maxey-Embiid running pick-and-rolls over and over again — five consecutive half-court possessions, to be exact. The Sixers scored at every point and decisively won the 2-on-2 game between their best player and Indiana’s Bruce Brown and Myles Turner. Maxey missed a floater in the fifth, but Embiid tied it with a put-back layup.
Embiid obviously wanted to attack the match against Turner, as he often makes a big impact. He scored a very efficient 19 points in the first quarter on Sunday, shooting 6-for-8 from the field and 7-for-8 at the foul line.
From the jump, Embiid and the Sixers were far better than before Friday night in Detroit. After trailing by 12 points for one quarter in this game, the Sixers led the Pacers by 11 points after the first quarter.
Maxey catches fire, McConnell does his thing
Nicolas Batum started in Oubre’s place.
While Batum won’t be able to replace all of Oubre’s goals, he seems capable of filling that role, both in terms of his steady, experienced style and his versatile game.
Batum received the challenging defensive assignment from Haliburton, Indiana’s All-Star lead guard. The Sixers also rotated frequently, something they were generally comfortable doing under Nurse. Batum helped set the right tone for the Sixers’ transition defense against the fast-paced Pacers by sprinting back to block a Bennedict Mathurin layup. He later caught a steal when he deftly pushed the ball away as Indiana’s big backup, Jalen Smith, began serving.
Furkan Korkmaz and Danuel House Jr. each joined the Sixers’ new 10-man rotation. However, the team’s first-half minutes without Embiid were all about Maxey.
The 23-year-old put in an outstanding performance at the start of the second quarter, combining quick attacks with deep jumps and confident, sharp decisions on every down. After Maxey made back-to-back three-pointers and hit a fast-break layup, the Sixers had a 55-36 lead. At this point, he and Embiid alone were outscoring the Pacers.
The Pacers soon turned the tide and TJ McConnell was an integral part.
McConnell provided his constant energy and applied more ball pressure to Maxey, who eventually began to miss. He also drove past former Sixers teammate Robert Covington for a layup, picked off Embiid for a loose ball and grabbed a backcourt steal. His short jumper on the Pacers’ final possession of the second quarter cut Indiana’s deficit to 69-60.
Total offensive rebounding dominance
The Pacers’ offense sped up even further early in the third quarter. Ultimately, they scored 39 points in that period and were only one point behind by the fourth period.
After Embiid committed a loose turnover and passed a pass to Maxey, Haliburton scored a three-pointer. He skillfully orchestrated Indiana’s half-court offense, creating favorable transitions, getting help on defense and initiating crisp drive-and-kick sequences. Even in transition, the Pacers always looked dangerous.
The Sixers, along with Maxey, missed nine of their first 10 three-pointers. Luckily, some Sixers role players began sinking a jumper to stop the Pacers’ advance. Batum and De’Anthony Melton hit key three-pointers in the third quarter.
Those shots didn’t deter the Pacers, who ended the third period with an 8-0 run and eventually took their first lead early in the fourth period.
The Sixers leaned heavily on Maxey and Tobias Harris (18 points, nine rebounds) early in the fourth round. It was great that they regularly got more than one scoring opportunity per possession. Harris had two put-back layups early in the fourth period and the Sixers finished the game with 23 offensive rebounds.
Rushing bench players like Paul Reed and Patrick Beverley have consistently supported these efforts. Maxey did the same on Sunday night, reaching his new career high and extending the Sixers’ lead to 124-114 by grabbing a Beverley airball and putting it infield.
The Stars owned the night – no one should hesitate to describe Maxey that way – but their fight for offensive rebounds and dominance in that area saved the Sixers.
And with victory essentially assured, Maxey capped his night with a victory deep three and of course the drilling to reach the 50 point mark.