3 observations after Maxey scores career-high 50, Sixers win eighth straight

3 observations after Maxey scores career-high 50, Sixers win eighth straight originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The show had to go on for the Sixers.

However, the unusual circumstances for the team’s Sunday night meeting with the Pacers certainly warrant a mention before diving into what turned out to be a very memorable game; Kelly Oubre Jr. was at home because he’d been hit by a car the night before and suffered a fractured rib.

The Sixers will re-evaluate Oubre in approximately a week after what head coach Nick Nurse called a “pretty traumatic incident.”

Without Oubre, the Sixers earned a 137-126 victory to extend their winning streak to eight games, improving to 6-0 at Wells Fargo Center and 8-1 overall.

A bigger deal than that: Tyrese Maxey set a new career high with 50 points on 20-for-32 shooting. He also had seven rebounds, five assists and three blocks in a truly special performance.

Joel Embiid posted 37 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.

Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton had 25 points and 17 assists.

The Sixers will host the Pacers again on Tuesday night. Here are observations on the Sixers’ Maxey-led victory Sunday:

Early pick-and-roll perfection 

The Sixers’ first few minutes played out almost exactly like the early stages of the third quarter in their Monday night win over the Wizards.

That meant empty-side Maxey-Embiid pick-and-rolls from the left wing over and over again — five consecutive half-court possessions, to be precise. The Sixers scored on every one, decisively winning the 2-on-2 game between their best player and Indiana’s Bruce Brown and Myles Turner. Maxey missed a floater on the fifth play, but Embiid cleaned things up with a put-back layup.

Embiid obviously wanted to attack the matchup against Turner, as he often has to great effect. He scored 19 very efficient points Sunday in the first quarter, shooting 6 for 8 from the field and 7 for 8 at the foul line.

Embiid and the Sixers were far better from the jump than they’d been Friday night in Detroit. After trailing that game by 12 points through a quarter, the Sixers led the Pacers by 11 following the first.

Maxey catches fire, McConnell does his thing 

Nicolas Batum started in Oubre’s spot.

Although Batum won’t replace all of Oubre’s scoring, he seems completely capable of assuming that role both in terms of his unperturbed, veteran’s disposition and his versatile game.

Batum drew the challenging defensive assignment of Haliburton, Indiana’s All-Star lead guard. The Sixers also switched often, which they’ve generally felt comfortable doing under Nurse. Batum assisted in setting the right tone for the Sixers’ transition defense against the high-paced Pacers, sprinting back to block a Bennedict Mathurin layup. He later picked up a steal when he cleverly poked the ball away as backup Indiana big man Jalen Smith began to post up.

Furkan Korkmaz and Danuel House Jr. each entered the Sixers’ new 10-man rotation. The team’s first-half Embiid-less minutes were all about Maxey, though.

The 23-year-old was tremendous early in the second quarter, mixing swift drives with deep jumpers and confident, sharp decisions every time down. After Maxey made back-to-back three-pointers and scored a fast-break layup, the Sixers held a 55-36 lead. At that point, he and Embiid alone were outscoring the Pacers.

The Pacers soon turned the tide and T.J. McConnell was integral.

McConnell provided his perpetual energy and exerted heavier ball pressure on Maxey, who finally started missing. He also drove by former Sixers teammate Robert Covington for a layup, beat Embiid out for a loose ball and nabbed a backcourt steal. His short jumper on the Pacers’ final second-quarter possession cut Indiana’s deficit to 69-60.

Total offensive rebounding dominance

The Pacers’ offense accelerated even further to open the third quarter. They ultimately posted 39 points in the period and trailed by just one going into the fourth.

After Embiid committed a casual turnover flinging an outlet pass toward Maxey, Haliburton nailed a three. He expertly orchestrated Indiana’s half-court offense, creating favorable switches, drawing help defense and starting crisp drive-and-kick sequences. The Pacers always appeared dangerous in transition, too.

Sixers besides Maxey collectively missed 9 of their first 10 threes. Fortunately, a few Sixers role players began to sink jumper to stymie the Pacers’ push. Batum and De’Anthony Melton canned key third-quarter threes.

Those shots didn’t deter the Pacers, who ended the third on an 8-0 run and finally grabbed their first lead early in the fourth.

The Sixers leaned heavily on Maxey and Tobias Harris (18 points, nine rebounds) to start the fourth. It was massive that they regularly got more than one chance to score per possession. Harris had two put-back layups early in the fourth and the Sixers finished the game with 23 offensive rebounds.

Hustling bench players like Paul Reed and Patrick Beverley have consistently supported that effort. Maxey did as well Sunday night, reaching his new career high and stretching the Sixers’ lead to 124-114 by snagging a Beverley air ball and laying it in.

The stars owned the evening — no one should hesitate now in describing Maxey that way — but their fight for offensive rebounds and dominance in that area saved the Sixers.

And with a victory essentially secure, Maxey punctuated his night by taking a deep three and, of course, drilling it to reach the 50-point mark.

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