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Tyrese Maxey explodes for 38 points, 76ers beat Raptors in Game 1


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Tyrese Maxey had the defining game of his young career, scoring 21 of his playoff career-high 38 points in the third quarter to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 131-111 victory over the Toronto Raptors in the Game 1 Saturday night.

James Harden had 22 points and 14 assists in his first Eastern Conference playoff game as a Sixer. NBA scoring champion Joel Embiid had 19 points and 15 rebounds. They combined to make just 11 of 32 shots from the ground.

Tobias Harris scored 26 points for the Sixers, trying to get past the second round for the first time since 2001. They host Game 2 on Monday.

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey, left, reacts to his three-pointer as Toronto Raptors’ Fred VanVleet, right, looks on during the first half of Game 1 of a first-round basketball playoff series NBA, Saturday, April 16, 2022, at Philadelphia Creme.
(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The opener belonged to Maxey. Maxey, 21, is the youngest Sixer to score at least 30 points in a playoff game.

Sixers fans hollered for “Maxey! Maxey! Maxey!” after every electrifying game — and he piled a season’s worth into the third as he dismantled the Raptors.

He swept a 32-footer late in the period for a 20-point lead and sent his teammates to the bench in a frenzy. The Raptors were stunned and had no answer for him: Maxey made 7 of 8 total shots, both 3s and all five free throws in 12 minutes.

Phew!

Pascal Siakam scored 24 points for the Raptors, who lost rookie Scottie Barnes to an ankle injury to compound what was already a miserable night. OG Anunoby scored 20 and Fred VanVleet added 18.

The Sixers took control in the first 24 minutes and Maxey pressed the gas in the third against a team that won the season series 3-1 (with Embiid and Harden in the lineup for the final two).

Maxey, the 6-foot-2 powerhouse from Kentucky, led the fast start early with a pair of quick 3s and 10s that put the Sixers riding to a double-digit lead.

The Sixers are the team of Embiid and Harden, and as it goes, so are the Sixers. But Maxey gives the 76ers a Big 2 3/4 and was more than just a capable backup for traded Ben Simmons.

Maxey emerged as a reliable scoring option – 18.7 points and 48% on 3s after the All-Star break – and had been on target since the whistleblower against Toronto. He made 6 of 10 shots and his 15 first-half points were just about equaling his playoff record last season in Game 6 against Atlanta.

Oh yes. Atlanta. The Hawks series still had Philly on edge this week as the stench of three home losses and a second-round exit as the No. 1 seed floated into this season.

The Raptors moved closer to 11 in the third but Harden — the bold trade deadline acquisition made for those moments — buried a 3 and a layup.

Harden then threw a two-handed rebound pass from midfield which Maxey caught in stride for a high-flying reverse layup. The Sixers trailed by 18, Toronto called a time out and the Philadelphia crowd went wild. Maxey hit another 3 and it was 91-76.

The Raptors didn’t seriously challenge until the end of the first half. Embiid was hit with a flagrant after hitting Barnes on a drive. Barnes made 1 of 2 free throws and the Raptors scored his miss to shoot at 48-42.

Embiid, however, made the Raptors pay moments later. He sneered over a bucket and forced VanVleet (who fouled in the fourth) to his third foul. Embiid converted the three-point play for a 57-42 lead.

Maxey took it from there.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Barnes grabbed his left foot and was apparently in pain after Embiid stepped on his foot in the fourth. He needed help with the locker room. Barnes, a top rookie of the year contender, has averaged 15.3 points in 74 games. … F Left Thaddeus Young with sprained left thumb

TIPS

Raptors: Only had two offensive rebounds in the first half. … Chris Boucher also committed a fault.

76ers: Rapper Meek Mill and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. sat on the court. … Returned the ball on the first possession of the second half. … Matisse Thybulle scored three points in 19 minutes. He will not be available for Games 3 and 4 in Toronto as he is not fully vaccinated.

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