Miller: It’s up to Tyrese Maxey to keep the 76ers in the playoff hunt

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Maxey graphic. - Multimedia Editor / Drew Peltzman

A season where things were going so well for the Philadelphia 76ers quickly turned awry after their best player, Joel Embiid, went down with a knee injury that is keeping him out for six to eight weeks.

Now Philadelphia will turn its attention to the newly named all-star guard in Tyrese Maxey. This was Maxey’s first selection as an all-star, which has been well deserved, as he has two 50-point games this season and averages 25.6 points per game, which is a career-high for the 23-year-old guard.

This will be Maxey’s biggest test of his young career though. With the 76ers currently having championship aspirations, it will be up to Maxey to help the Sixers maintain a top seed in the Eastern Conference until the reigning MVP comes back.

The recent acquisitions of Buddy Hield, Kyle Lowry, and Cameron Payne should be enough to help Maxey avoid getting doubled for the majority of the game as he did during the second half against the Utah Jazz. He still managed to drop 51 points despite the occasional double team, but the new guys, along with Tobias Harris, should help create more open looks for Maxey and take some stress off his shoulders.

Since Embiid’s injury, the 76ers have been in a bit of a slump, going 3-4 in the seven games they’ve played without the big man, which has dropped them down to the fifth seed. Now the Sixers have been without some guys through this stretch, which has led to guys like Ricky Council IV and Terquavion Smith getting minutes, but they will need to play much better if they want to avoid the play-in tournament.

In addition to saving the Sixers, Maxey is also eligible for a max contract this year, which he could get if he continues to ball out.

All of Philadelphia knows that Maxey can play at a high level and that he can help the team win a lot of games. I think we are going to see a more motivated and eager version of him since Embiid is going to be out. This may also lead to Maxey becoming a stronger leader and building better relationships with his teammates since he’s going to be stepping into an even bigger role as one of the team’s leaders. This could be a good challenge for him though, since he’s always had one of Embiid or James Harden by his side.

Maxey has all of the tools to be great. His job is to lead, score, and win basketball games, and I think we are going to see a totally different version of Tyrese Maxey until Embiid returns.

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