If the Sixers Are Tyrese Maxey's Team Now, That's a Good Thing

The emerging star scored 46 points and hit an unreal shot in Game 5.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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Tyrese Maxey saved the Philadelphia 76ers' season on Tuesday night as he went off for 46 points and made an unbelievable 34-foot bomb in the final seconds of regulation to facilitate five more minutes instead of another early elimination. It was the greatest performance of his life and a coming-out party of sorts, although basketball fans are more than familiar with his potential and ability to carry a team on his back while hot.

The series now shifts back to Philadelphia where the locals will be louder and more enthused as they try to force a do-or-die Game 7 back at Madison Square Garden.

Maxey is now averaging 32.4 points per game in the battle with New York and has been thoroughly efficient, shooting 50.0 percent from the field. And the Sixers needed a second star to emerge more than ever in Game 5 as Joel Embiid struggled mightily. Despite collecting a triple double, the big man looked once again like the weight of the world was on a broken body, turning the ball over an unsustainable 10 times and not exactly rising to the moment.

All of this led Dan Patrick, among others, to conclude that this is Maxey's team now.

Which ... maybe. Maybe it is considering all that Embiid is fighting through. It's kind of amazing that the Sixers can rely on him to even be out there but it's also worth wondering if they can reasonably expect him to carry the heaviest of loads.

Discussions about the future Hall of Fame center's legacy will persist. That discourse will be much louder if Philadelphia is unable to overcome this 3-1 deficit but it won't go away if he's largely a passenger on a bus still running in the playoffs.

The thing is, though, is that this is just fine for the Sixers. Maxey's emergence is literally the best thing that could have happened to them. A franchise that has been processing for so long shouldn't care how they finally get the desired results. A winning team is a winning team if it's Embiid's team or Maxey's team or, hey, even Tobias Harris's team.

What this ultimately means for Embiid's legacy or whatever specious subjective metric people want to use can be sorted out later. Getting two wins from whichever players want to deliver them is far more pressing.

Kyle K