The Philadelphia 76ers went into their season opener on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans on the road with a new point guard. Amid the Ben Simmons saga, the Sixers had to turn to somebody else to lead the way and they chose young Tyrese Maxey.
With Simmons suspended and Shake Milton on the shelf, coach Doc Rivers handed the keys to the second-year guard and the young guard finished with 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting while knocking down two triples and he pulled down seven rebounds in a 117-97 win over the Pelicans.
While Maxey only had five assists and he struggled a bit on defense, this is the type of performance Rivers will take from the young guard.
“He was great,” said Rivers. “I thought early on, he made some tough plays, got too deep, which he’ll learn. I thought he got in to try and create instead of finding guys, but I thought overall in the first half, I didn’t like how we moved the ball. Second half, I thought the ball started hopping.”
The Sixers had 13 assists in the first half compared to 11 in the second half, but the ball was definitely moving more after halftime. It was a solid performance that led to the bench unit leading the way to a win and guys like Seth Curry and Furkan Korkmaz getting involved.
“You can always tell,” Rivers added. “Seth had three buckets in the second half. In the first half, I think he had two attempts. If you look at any team, if the shooters don’t have a lot of shots, then the ball’s not moving. It’s pretty easy to see that and that what we talked about at halftime.”
The Sixers only shot 37.5% from the floor in the second quarter as they saw a double-digit lead disappear and they went into the half tied as the Pelicans made a run. A talk in the locker room helped fix everything to help the team get back on track.
“The first quarter was fine and then in that second quarter, the ball started sticking more,” said Embiid. “We started taking more tougher shots. The point of emphasis starting with that third quarter was just to share the ball. Go back to what we do best as a team and it worked out well.”
At the end of the day, Maxey is not concerned. He did end up shooting the ball well so he had a typical Maxey game and the other side of being a point guard will come in time. He just needs to be able to continue to grow.
“My performance doesn’t really matter,” he stated. “We won the game. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. I think I did as much as I can to help my team win and we came out victorious.”
As far as handling the pressure of being the point guard on a team that is still chasing a championship, Maxey is again not concerned. As long as the Sixers continue to win.
“Honestly, the only thing I thought about going into this game was winning,” he finished. “I just wanted to do whatever I could, as solid as I could to help my team win. We won the game and that’s all that matters.”
The Sixers will now head home to host the Brooklyn Nets on Friday.
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