Tyrese Maxey is having an incredible season (this is the sort of analysis that brings you to Liberty Ballers, folks). He is currently 14th in the league in scoring, 13th in assists, and been incredibly efficient both in terms of shooting the basketball and taking care of it. He looks like a surefire All-Star and there has even been talk of his being an All-Star starter, with teammate Joel Embiid a big proponent of that idea.
Personally, I think the guard slots will probably go to Tyrese Haliburton (who is having an incredible season and had the Q score bump from the excellent In-Season Tournament run) and Damian Lillard (good season, already a household name with the career track record). But it’s awesome that Maxey is squarely in the conversation, with Jalen Brunson, Trae Young and Donovan Mitchell likely the other names in the mix.
All of which made it extremely unfortunate that Monday’s Christmas Day 119-113 loss to Miami was when Tyrese Maxey had his worst game of the season. Now, I’m not talking to you, Mr. or Mrs. League Pass Subscriber, who watches a minimum of two games every night. But there are some people who might only catch certain teams a few times throughout the year. The Christmas Day slate is one of the NBA’s showcase events, and chances are, much more people watched Tyrese Maxey play on Monday night than saw him drop 50 points against Indiana back in November.
So with millions of eyes on him, and the chance to create a ‘the Sixers are alright even on nights without Embiid thanks to Maxey’ narrative, you hated to see Tyrese struggle to 4-of-20 shooting for just 12 points. It was only the second time this season when Tyrese made fewer than five field goals, and the other was a 2-of-13 outing against Detroit which wasn’t great, but the team won by 18 points and he still had nine assists so it ultimately didn’t matter.
Maxey was scoreless on 0-of-9 shooting in the first half. In the second half, you saw really frustrated body language after misses, very uncharacteristic for him. A floater missed short, which is something we never see from Tyrese. He badly missed on free throws on consecutive possessions with inside of two minutes remaining in the game and the Sixers trying to make one final push. You could see Maxey was just in his own head about things. I’m not bringing these things up to pile on, but just to say how much I was feeling for a guy who badly wanted to rise to the occasion but it simply wasn’t his night.
Now, I’m not the least bit worried about Maxey moving forward. It’s a long season and everyone eventually has games like this. For Mr. One Percent Better Every Day, I have no doubt he’ll work to put this game behind him and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he has a huge game tomorrow against the Magic. But I wanted this for him. A Christmas Day explosion to get the hype train rolling into a higher gear. You could see Tyrese kind of wanted it too. It’s a bummer things went in the complete opposite direction. But oh well, to paraphrase Bill Belichick, on to Orlando.