Curry, Maxey Step Up in Game 6 to Keep Sixers' Season Alive

The Philadelphia 76ers will host a Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks after two role players emerged to key Friday's season-saving victory.
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The Philadelphia 76ers live to see another day.

Facing elimination against the Atlanta Hawks on the road after blowing massive leads in each of the last two contests, the Sixers managed to pull out a 104-99 victory in Game 6 Friday night.

Both Eastern Conference second-round series have extended to seven games in this year’s NBA playoffs, and these two squads will face off for that pivotal matchup Sunday. Here are three thoughts from the Sixers' win.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Seth Curry (31) drives to the basket against Atlanta Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari (8) during the first quarter in game six in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs

Seth Curry drives to the basket in Philadelphia's Game 6 victory.

Seth Curry continues to be an X-factor for the Sixers

When your brother is an NBA superstar who has three titles to his name and quite literally changed the way the game of basketball is played, it’s easy to fall under the radar. Such has often been the case for Seth Curry.

But the younger Curry has gotten his moment in the spotlight as of late. He’s been the X-factor for the Sixers in this series, stepping up at the time of year it matters most after finishing fifth on the team in scoring (12.5 points per game) in the regular season.

He drained seven three-pointers and finished with 36 points—both career playoff highs—in Game 5, doing so on 68.4% shooting from the floor. His impressive string of postseason performances continued Friday night, as the guard put up 24 points, including six made threes on nine attempts .

Fourteen of those points came in the third quarter, during which Curry scored or assisted on every bucket on a 14-0 run to turn a 51-47 halftime deficit into a lead L.A. kept the rest of the way.

The Sixers are now 19–3 on the season when Curry scores 16 points or more, and two of those losses came in this series. They’ll be counting on his red-hot shooting come Sunday.

Tyrese Maxey had a breakout game

When the NBA All-Rookie teams were announced Thursday, guard Tyrese Maxey was nowhere to be found. The same couldn’t be said for Friday night’s game, however.

The rookie out of Kentucky was a crucial presence for the Sixers off the bench with the season on the line. When Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris each picked up two fouls in the first quarter, it was Maxey who stepped up to the task.

Maxey, who averaged 8.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in a little over 15 minutes per game during the regular season, made each of his first four shots to give the Sixers a much-needed boost after they trailed by as many as 12 points.

The rookie played just one minute in Game 5, but liking what he was seeing, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers played Maxey 29 minutes—four more than Simmons, who battled foul trouble all night—on Friday. Rivers also praised Maxey’s defense, particularly in guarding Trae Young, in his postgame press conference, saying that it was his best defensive effort all season.

Maxey finished with a playoff career-high 16 points along with seven rebounds and the best plus/minus (+12) of any player on either team, showing glimpses of the standout player he could develop into after being selected 21st overall in the 2020 draft.

Key Hawks players didn’t rise to the moment

Winning a closeout game in the NBA playoffs is no easy task. When your second- and third-leading scorers can’t get it going, it’s nearly impossible.

Young continued his impressive playoff debut run with 34 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and three steals. But he didn’t get much help from his top counterparts, with John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic combining for 14 points on 5-for-19 shooting, including a dismal 1-for-9 mark from deep.

Bogdanovic left the game early with right knee soreness and it remains unclear whether he will be available for Game 7, which could present major problems for Atlanta. If this team wants a chance to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals, Young will need someone else to step up. 

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