Tyrese Maxey's Star Evolution in Game 1 Win Unlocks 76ers' Full Potential

Adam WellsApril 17, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 16: Tyrese Maxey #0 of the Philadelphia 76ers celebrates after scoring in the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors during Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round at Wells Fargo Center on April 16, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

While most of the attention on the Philadelphia 76ers' first playoff game was centered around James Harden and how he would perform, it was Tyrese Maxey who stole the show.

The second-year guard surpassed his season-high point total in the third quarter and finished with 38 points in the Sixers' 131-111 Game 1 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.

ESPN @espn

Maxey with the DEEP three 😮<br><br>He's got 36 heading into the fourth 👀 <a href="https://t.co/7cu67JaEXP">pic.twitter.com/7cu67JaEXP</a>

Tim Bontemps @TimBontemps

Tyrese Maxey has turned into the Human Torch. He's now up to 34 points on 13-18 shooting, and has absolutely been the difference in this game. Just an incredible performance. His speed, coupled with his shooting improvement, makes him incredibly tough to stop.

The Raptors dominated the season series against the 76ers. They won three of four games between the two teams, with two of the victories coming on March 20 and April 7.

Despite Toronto's team success against Philadelphia, Maxey fared well against this defense. He shot 52.7 percent from the field (50.0 percent from three-point range) and averaged 19.8 points in four games.

Maxey took his game to a completely different level in this playoff victory. This was just his second 30-point performance in a game since March 5.

Keith Pompey @PompeyOnSixers

Maxey scored 21 points in the third quarter on 7-8 shooting.

J. Kyle Mann @jkylemann

maxey is going keaton-batman nuts right now

Basketball Reference @bball_ref

Players aged 21 and younger to score 35+ in a playoff game in 76ers history:<br><br>Tyrese Maxey (21 years - 163 days)<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Sixers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Sixers</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/sixers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@sixers</a> <a href="https://t.co/kbcFgtATKD">pic.twitter.com/kbcFgtATKD</a>

Kendrick Perkins @KendrickPerkins

The 76ers officially have a Big 3!!! Tyrese Maxey is ELITE and I see why Philly didn’t want to include him in any trade! Carry the hell on…

Lauren Rosen @LaurenMRosen

I've said this all year, but now that the whole country (or 2) is watching, it's worth a repeat:<br><br>What <a href="https://twitter.com/TyreseMaxey?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TyreseMaxey</a> has done this season has been incredible. 21 years old, in an unprecedented new role, constantly challenged, &amp; stayed coolheaded, confident, and kind.<br><br>He's a star.

Jawn Gonzalez @JohnGonzalez

honestly we should all send Ben Simmons a thank you card for making this Tyrese Maxey season possible

The 76ers' other stars didn't play a perfect game. Harden was only 6-of-17 from the field, but he still put up 22 points and dished out 14 assists. One of those assists was an unbelievable pass to Maxey on a fast break for a layup midway through the third quarter to put Philadelphia ahead 88-70.

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

that's tuff. 😤 <a href="https://t.co/jSfDJzFzeZ">pic.twitter.com/jSfDJzFzeZ</a>


"How'd you see me?"<br><br>Tyrese Maxey couldn't believe James Harden found him on the break.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAPlayoffs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAPlayoffs</a> presented by Google Pixel on ESPN <a href="https://t.co/pKulv2aY7C">pic.twitter.com/pKulv2aY7C</a>

Joel Embiid had one of his worst shooting performances of the season, going 5-of-15 from the field. The MVP candidate still made an impact with 15 rebounds and four assists.

Tobias Harris very quietly had 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting.

Maxey's ability to lift the Sixers up on his own bodes very well for them in these playoffs. He's been a budding star all season. Game 1 was his coming-out party as a legitimate star on the national stage.

The 76ers will look to take a 2-0 series lead against the Raptors when these two teams play Game 2 on Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET.