Philadelphia 76ers: Tyrese Maxey’s play overshadows Ben Simmons news

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Boy oh boy, what a totally normal day to be a Philadelphia 76ers fan.

No crazy story broke during the team’s game versus the Raptors – a game already featuring a COVID-shortened rotation – the internet didn’t go berserk as a result, and fans could settle in for a lovely, quiet evening of Sixers basketball with a four-legged friend and some homemade mac and cheese.

Except, of course, that isn’t how things turned out; I mean, we are talking about the Philadelphia 76ers, after all.

Midway through the team’s aforementioned Thursday night contest versus the Toronto Raptors, Shams Charania of The Athletic dropped a story with direct quotes from Rich Paul detailing how the Sixers’ “fines, the targeting, the negative publicity shined on the issue — that’s very unnecessary and has furthered the mental health issues for Ben.” (If you’re an Athletic subscriber, read it all here, if not, there are plenty of excerpts floating around Twitter that are very easy to find.)

*insert “Tired Spongebob” meme here*

In the grand scheme of Ben Simmons news dumps, this one is pretty massive. It draws a first-party line in the sand and will surely be a fixture of sports talk for the foreseeable future but guess what? BS isn’t the only Philly point guard who drew headlines on Veterans Day. No, Tyrese Maxey got in on the fun too by putting on an absolute show in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 115-109 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

The Philadelphia 76ers have to love Tyrese Maxey’s blazing hot streak.

When Tyrese Maxey dropped 31 on the Milwaukee Bucks without $128 million worth of talent on the court, it felt like a pretty big moral victory, but one that in no way was sustainable, right? I mean, sure, Maxey had gone for 30-plus before, in three separate occasions to be exact, but those games are aberrations, as the second-year Kentucky prospect is only averaging 15.8 points per game in this his breakout campaign.

Well, maybe we were actually underselling Maxey, as he took his 31 points and did it two better when his team needed him most, scoring 33 points in 40 minutes of action, including 11 in the fourth quarter.

Maxey was a veritable spitfire at both ends of the court. He hit 12-19 of his shots from the field, 1-3 from beyond the arc, and, in a very welcomed development, went to the line eight times and made them all. His five assists were tied for second on the team with Furkan Korkmaz behind Tobias Harris, and he offset his two turnovers with a steal and a pair of blocks; including a crucial block with 3:07 to go on OG Anunoby that helped to turn the momentum in Philly’s favor before some late-game mistakes compounded at the end of the game to secure Toronto a win.

Now granted, did Maxey sort of disappear in the final minute of the game? Yes. Once he passed the ball off to Korkmaz right around the 1:00 mark of the fourth quarter, he didn’t take a shot again until he pulled up for a desperation 3 with 6.7 seconds left on the clock, but I wouldn’t put that blame solely on the young guard’s shoulders. No, Doc Rivers appeared very determined to give those final shots to Tobias Harris in his first game back with the team, and that ultimately proved to be the wrong call, as he finished out clutch time going 0-2.

Needless to say, when Andre Drummond is taking two of your final four shots in regulation, it’s not too surprising to see a potential win fall by the wayside.

Next. Can Tobias Harris hold down the fort?. dark

Are the Philadelphia 76ers still a work in progress? Yes. Until they are back to full strength and have their current roster supplemented with further firepower by a blockbuster trade, Doc Rivers and company will have to get creative when it comes to putting wins on the board, with moral ones only taking the team so far. But until that day eventually comes, when Joel Embiid is back on the court, and Adrian Wojnarowski announces his new running mate(s), the team can at least hold their head up knowing they secured an absolute steal of a point guard in the back half of the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft. That, my friends, helps to cover up for the current barrage of bad news surrounding their other point guard.