Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey wasn’t willing to give up on the season during Game 6. While the game was practically out of reach in the fourth quarter on Thursday night, Maxey was still going full throttle, looking for different ways to score and steal the ball in hopes of making an unlikely comeback to force a Game 7.
After the game, Doc Rivers admired Maxey’s drive as he attempted to keep the Sixers alive.
“I just love the kid,” said Rivers. “I think you know that. I've only said it 100 times, and he is still learning how to win too. He's learned how to execute and come out of timeouts and run the right plays. You know, he may have to be a point guard at some point. Right now, he's more of a two, which was good for him. But he has a lot to learn.”
Maxey’s attempt to save the Sixers failed on Thursday night. As a team, Philadelphia looked disoriented for the second-straight game. Meanwhile, Miami was playing like a first-seed that no longer wanted to play for anything less than a conference title at this point.
When the fourth quarter concluded, the Sixers collected a 99-90 loss to end their season officially. Although the disappointed Doc Rivers wanted Tyrese Maxey’s 2021-2022 run to be celebrated after the Game 6 loss, Maxey wasn’t collecting moral victories.
“Somebody used a phrase earlier in the year when I was having a conversation,” said Maxey. “He used the acronym of N.G.E, which is not good enough. I just wasn’t good enough. I’ll take that on the chin and use that as motivation the entire summer.”
Prior to Game 5 against Miami, Maxey had a stellar playoff run. In ten games, he knocked down 51-percent of his shots and 41-percent of his threes. While averaging 41 minutes on the court, Maxey put up 22 points per game and became Philadelphia’s x-factor throughout their postseason run.
Unfortunately, the hot streak ended during their final two matchups. In Game 5 on the road in Miami, Maxey shot 2-10 from the field and scored just nine points in the 35-point blowout loss. Then in Game 6, he drained nine of his 22 field-goal attempts for 20 points. Of the seven threes he took, Maxey drained just one of them.
Now, it’s back to the drawing board for Maxey. With his third NBA offseason approaching, the young guard knows he has a lot of work to do to come back better after a spectacular sophomore run with the Sixers. To Rivers, that’s something he’s confident about.
“I will say this with him; he will learn it because he'll outwork every single person this summer,” said Rivers after Game 6. “My guess is he already planned his summer, and that's why you love a kid like that.”
The following afternoon, Rivers confirmed that Maxey was already looking to talk about getting back to work to prepare for next year. To no surprise, he’s taken the acronym to heart following a tough playoff performance.
“I just gotta be better,” Maxey finished. “That phrase is gonna stick with me this entire summer and onto next year — not good enough — I just wasn’t good enough.”
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.
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