The rest of the league might be gearing up for the playoffs, but the Philadelphia 76ers still have a slate of challenging regular season games left before the postseason. Beginning with Friday night’s win over the Toronto Raptors, each of the Sixers’ final six games will come against teams either heading for the Play-In Tournament or an outright playoff bid.
With matches against the Bucks, Heat, Celtics, and Nets remaining, the Sixers will need everyone to step up to finish the regular season strong. That includes Tyrese Maxey, who had a quieter-than-usual night in Philadelphia’s 117-110 win over the Raptors.
But according to James Harden, Maxey’s contributions Friday night might not be found on any box scores.
“He did a great job from the beginning of the game and that’s what we’re gonna need,” Harden told reporters after the game, per USA Today’s Sixers Wire. “Obviously, we know how well Tyrese can score a ball, shoot the ball, but I think his defense is underrated.”
Harden was masterful against the Raptors, recording a 23-point, 11-assist double-double in the win,
Doc Rivers Praises Tyrese Maxey After 76ers’ Defeat Raptors
Harden wasn’t the only one to praise Maxey after the Sixers’ second-straight home win.
“The last two games, three games,” Doc Rivers explained after the game. “Tyrese’s ball pressure, I thought beginning of the game Tyrese and Melt (De’Anthony Melton) set the tone for us. They picked the ball up, Toronto was getting into their offense at 14 and 13 on the clock. When you just have to play 13 seconds of defense, it makes you a really good defensive team, and I thought they did that in the second half, I thought we kind of got away from that a little bit.”
Maxey’s 13 points matched his lowest total since the Sixers’ 39-point blowout win over the Charlotte Hornets on March 17. Between then and Friday night, Maxey had been averaging 26.2 points on 48% from three.
Maxey’s third season has largely been a success for the Sixers. Despite a shooting dip after a foot injury in November, Maxey’s regained his form, matching his three-point shooting rate from 2021-22. That rate is the eighth-best this season across the NBA among qualified players.
But even better, Maxey’s maintained that 42% rate from deep while being a much higher-volume scorer. He’s averaging over two more threes per game this year (6.2) than last season (4.1).
Tyrese Maxey Praises James Harden’s Mentorship with 76ers
Of course, it helps that Maxey’s been able to learn from one of professional basketball’s most elite scorers and players in James Harden.
“I’ve learned a lot from James,” Maxey told Jackson Frank of Uproxx. “He’s been great. He’s been great on and off the court. On the court, for sure, he’s taught me so many different things. He’s taught me to be confident. He’s taught me to be myself. He’s just really helped me be someone who can go out there every single night and perform at the highest level, and help our team win.”
While it might be intimidating for a youngster like Maxey to play alongside a seasoned vet in Harden, the latter made it clear that his role was as a teacher, not a competitor.
“He still helps with confidence, as far as telling me that he’s here to help me. He said that from day one. He said he wouldn’t be here to hinder my progress. He’s gonna only be here to help and I think he’s done that, man. He’s kinda taken me under his wing and helped me be successful, even more successful than I was before.”
The Sixers are back in action Sunday night against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.