Joel Embiid Calls Out Tyrese Maxey After Disappointing No-Show Versus Celtics

Tyrese Maxey Philadelphia 76ers

Getty Head coach Doc Rivers and Tyrese Maxey of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Saturday night bore all the makings of a heavyweight contest between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics. Like two fighters in a ring, the teams exchanged repeated blows in a game marked by streaky scoring and frustrating droughts.

Outside of Joel Embiid‘s 41 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists (and, strangely enough, PJ Tucker’s 16 boards), the Sixers received little. James Harden and Tobias Harris finished for 21 and 19 points, respectively, a decent enough show.

But the real disappointment came from Philadelphia’s bench, which managed just 12 points between Tyrese Maxey, Jalen McDaniels, Georges Niang, Paul Reed, and Shake Milton. Maxey himself finished with eight of those 12, but was woefully inefficient, going four-of-12 from the field, including 0-for-two from deep.

After the game, Embiid called out Maxey, encouraging him to continue finding his groove, even when the shots aren’t falling.

“I think, my main thing for (Maxey) is to just be aggressive,” Embiid said, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “Obviously, everybody watches film and everybody knows what he does best. I was just giving him an example about how I’m sure people watched film on me and then they probably know what I want to get to, but then again, there’s so many ways you can, even if they want to take it away, there’s so many ways you can set them up and still being able to get to whatever shots you want or whatever spot on the floor.”

Rivers: Maxey ‘Doing Everything We’ve Asked’ of Him

It wasn’t all bad for Maxey, though. A downhill drive culminated in a slick layup late in the fourth, capping off a tremendous Sixers comeback that looked improbable a few minutes prior.

But several times Maxey appeared to force shots that simply weren’t there, including a botched layup late in the third quarter.

After the game, head coach Doc Rivers appeared to note Maxey’s forced play.

“We got to get the ball in his hands more and then what happens when he doesn’t, then he forces a little bit, but you don’t blame them,” Rivers said. “He’s fighting defensively. He’s doing everything we’ve asked him to do, but we got to get him more involved.”

Prior to the season, Maxey appeared on a crash course with his first All-Star appearance following an electric sophomore campaign. But a foot injury in mid-November upended those hopes, and, by extension, Maxey’s place in the starting five.

Since being officially moved to the bench by Rivers on January 15, Maxey’s production has fluctuated, often wildly at times. There are nights when Maxey explodes for 25+ points, as he did on February 10 against the New York Knicks.

But he’s also been prone to Houdini-esque disappearing acts. Case in point: in his 25 games since returning from injury, Maxey’s scored 10 points or fewer five times. Prior to his injury, he posted just one such game. And last season, he was limited to ten points or less just 10 times.

Maxey Speaks on Recent Sixers Struggles

Maxey is ultimately being held prisoner by the expectations he created for himself after a dynamic and explosive second year. Had one been told that Maxey, a late first-round draft pick taken just three (!) years ago would average 19.4 points on 38% from three by just his third year, it would likely have been heralded as an unequivocal success.

He’s still young with a promising future ahead of him. Let’s also not forget there was a legitimate discourse about whether he’d be worth including in a trade for Kevin Durant just six months ago.

For his credit, Maxey is saying all the right things.

“Yeah, I feel good, I feel better,” Maxey said after that aforementioned Knicks win, per Dave Early of Liberty Ballers. “I had a rough past week, mentally, didn’t play well. I had a conversation with my parents yesterday for about an hour-and-a-half and you know, I kind of got all the emotions out that I needed to get out.”

The Sixers get a shot at righting the ship against the Miami Heat on Monday night.

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