Sixers Find Perfect Replacement for Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers, Tyrese Maxey

Getty Tyrese Maxey #0 and James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers talk during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round.

In previous postseasons, the Philadelphia 76ers would run into a glaring issue in regards to Joel Embiid. The team thrived in his minutes on the floor but struggled greatly when the All-Star center came off for a quick breather.

Through two games with the Toronto Raptors, this no longer seems to be an issue. In their game 2 victory, not only was Embiid a +7, but backup center Paul Reed posted a +8 plus/minus. Continuing to produce when Embiid comes off the floor allowed the Sixers to win game 2 in dominant fashion and take a commanding 2-0 lead over Toronto.

One key factor in the Sixers’ winning the non-Embiid minutes has been the play of Tyrese Maxey. After erupting for 38 points in game 1, he followed up with a 23-point performance in game 2.

What stood out most from Maxey was his ability to pick and choose his spots. When Embiid had it going early on, he took a back seat and let the MVP frontrunner go to work. It was when he came off the floor that Maxey stepped up and provided his electric scoring punch.

Following the win, Embiid opened up on the play of Maxey and James Harden when he came off the floor. He is pleased with their performance and feels it is something that needs to be maintained moving forward.

“They’ve just been doing a great job of playing with pace and looking for matchups. Favorable matchups. To attack. Just playing the game with each other. Whether it’s Tyrese attacking or James going one on one with a favorable matchup and finding guys that way too. I think it’s been great. That’s what we all need all series and for the future too,” said Embiid

Balanced Scoring Attack

Another major catalyst for the Sixers so far this postseason is getting production from multiple areas. While Embiid and Harden are looked at to lead the charge, the supporting cast has done a good job filling in the gaps around them. All five Sixers’ starters finished game 2 in double figures, and the trio of Embiid, Maxey, and Tobias Harris accounted for 74 of the team’s 112 points.

Doc Rivers touched on his team’s balanced attack offensively during his postgame media availability:

“That’s a function of continuity a little bit. And listen, Toronto makes you move the ball. They’re an excellent defensive team. They’re gonna run around and trap. They’re gonna try and muck the game up. And if you’re not willing to move the ball and play with each other, they’re going to be effective. But, if you’re willing to do that, then you’re going to get good shots. And, we can’t worry about who it is. We just have to spray the ball out. And I think we’re doing that,” said Rivers.

Former Champ Thinks Sixers Are ‘Force to be Reckoned With’

It goes without saying how crucial it is for the Sixers’ to get production out of their supporting cast. In the past two games we have seen Nick Nurse do everything he can to slow down the All-Star duo of Embiid and Harden. With so much emphasis placed on those two, it’s creating an array of opportunities for those around them.

One person who has been greatly impressed by the play of the Sixers is Kendrick Perkins. The former NBA champion recently went on ESPN’s ‘First Take’ to share his thoughts on Philly’s success thus far in the postseason.

It don’t matter who put up the points, it’s just walking out and getting that win that particular night, and what the Philadelphia 76ers showed me, they showed me they are a force to be reckoned with.

Despite having minimal time to figure out their new lineup, the Sixers are off to a hot start in the playoffs. Moving forward, no matter who they face, the defense will have all its focus on Embiid and Harden. If guys like Maxey and Harris can continue to thrive off that, the Sixers are going to be a very tough team to take down in a seven-game series.

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