HomeBasketball TodayTyrese Maxey Shreds Mavericks' Defense as Philly Makes the Pick

Tyrese Maxey Shreds Mavericks’ Defense as Philly Makes the Pick

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Tyrese Maxey and the 76ers did a great job against the Mavericks’ blitzes. Plus, Nico Batum and Kyle Lowry stepped up.

The Philadelphia 76ers picked off yet another win without Joel Embiid by defeating the Dallas Mavericks. They played a strong game until the final few minutes, where they were holding onto their lead for dear life. But they did hold on and win their second straight game.

Tyrese Maxey recorded 24 points on 8-15 shooting. His scoring and gravity opened things up for the Sixers and Tobias Harris took advantage, scoring 28 points on 11-19 shooting. Kelly Oubre Jr. (21 points on 7-17 shooting) was crucial and Kyle Lowry and Nico Batum, despite shooting 1-9 and 2-8 respectively, were brilliant throughout the game. Luka Doncic stuffed the stat sheet — he often does — with 38 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and seven turnovers while Kyrie Irving scored 28 points.

The Sixers showed a significant improvement against blitzes and were very attentive on defense, forcing Dallas turnovers left and right. Let’s jump into the film.

Double? No trouble

In the first few games when it was apparent Maxey was going to be the 76ers’ first option for a while, the team as a whole showed immense struggles against blitzes. Maxey didn’t get the ball out quickly and part of that was because he hardly had anyone to pass it to. The players he had to pass to were not always the ones who could make the snappy decisions needed to get good looks in a few seconds or less.

At first, the Mavs only put one player on Maxey. They would switch if it was to a reliable defender (such as P.J. Washington) but would stay in drop if it was either a not-so-great perimeter defender (like Doncic or Tim Hardaway Jr.) or a center (like Dereck Lively II). It allowed Maxey to get downhill with relative ease, driving by his defender after screens and ghost screens made his defender freeze for a split second.

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This single coverage was not cutting it at all. Maxey scored 17 points in the first quarter and the Sixers led by 10 at the period’s conclusion.

After missing a portion of the second half after hitting his head on Derrick Jones Jr.’s leg, the Mavs showed Maxey no mercy. When the blitzes started coming, the 76ers realized they needed to have the roller be someone who could read the floor or score themselves. A third-quarter possession in which Mo Bamba caught the short-roll pass that ended with a missed layup (though he did also draw a foul going for the offensive board) exemplified that.

Batum proved to be the right man for the job. One of the Sixers’ previous, many issues with how they handled blitzes was that the screener for Maxey was rarely someone who could make plays on the move. As Batum showed when hit Paul Reed along the baseline, that’s light work for him.

Doncic tries to quarterback the defense by telling Jones to stay low and watch the big man along the baseline. But he’s occupied by Oubre, whose great sense for moving when off the ball is ticking. He makes it easier for Batum to swing the ball to him to the wing as opposed to a harder pass in the corner. Amidst the confusion, Batum dished it to Reed.

Maxey did a better job of getting the ball out, which gave Batum a greater head start. Right after he hit Reed, the Mavs pinched their defense in to take it away. But what they couldn’t cover for was a wide-open Oubre in the corner.

The 76ers also inverted the short-roll process with Batum being the screener but also the recipient of the second pass and the scorer. Oubre again gets himself open away from the ball with all eyes on Maxey, who whips a pass to him on the baseline. Batum rises right up for the jumper after slipping the screen.

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Batum being able to dribble into a shot makes him such an ideal short roller. Using typical screens like Bamba or Reed means trusting someone with less-than-ideal handles. Using a guard means the screen may not be as effective since it’s with someone smaller. Batum is the best of both worlds on top of being one of Philly’s smart passers and having a high shooting release.

The Mavs throwing a double at Maxey helped the 76ers get a crucial bucket late in the game. Clean, timeless ball movement around the perimeter forced a hard closeout that Harris scooted right by. He dribbled into a paint touch, draining the push shot. Lowry’s pass being extra snappy left Washington with nothing to do but try to poke the ball away from behind.

There may not be many more important facets of offensive execution for the Emibid-less Sixers than what they do against blitzing defenses. Maxey has proven repeatedly that few defenders can hang with him one-on-one, so he’s bound to face double teams a bunch. Having answers for that will go a very long way.

IQ never diminishes with age

There is at least a little worrisome that the 76ers rely so heavily on Batum and Lowry, ages 35 and 37 respectively, to play so many minutes and get the team organized. The well-past-their-pime veterans uphold a lot of responsibility.

However, for all the concerns about how well their bodies can hold up, there are none about their abilities and intelligence. It is very reassuring to know that both guys can still impact the game in a variety of ways. Batum led Philly with 11 rebounds and Lowry led the team with seven assists. Neither one of them committed a turnover in over 30 minutes of playing time each. Not many pairs of players can shoot 3-17 combined and still be extremely helpful.

One reason why Lowry is such an impressive playmaker is that he never gives the plans away. His passes are sharp and never telegraphed, which makes them much harder for defenders to react. Perhaps his best assist was his lob to Bamba, which he threw before Bamba even had a foot in the paint. Unlocking Bamba’s vertical spacing is something the 76ers should look into more, especially because they have Lowry’s ability to make accurate passes when no one’s expecting them.

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While not as much on display in this game, Lowry also helps Maxey get off-ball looks. His playmaking will go a long way in keeping the 76ers wheels churning.

On defense, Batum notched three steals. His quick hands poked the ball away and he even perfectly read Doncic on one possession. He knows that once Doncic draws the low man away from the corner shooter, the ball is going right there. Bamba contesting Doncic makes him veer away from the shot and make the pass late and to a spot that Batum is chilling in.

Lowry has guarded up during his time so far with the 76ers, taking on taller, slower players. While this is due in part to his diminished quickness, it also puts him in better positions to help on drives. He’s still very strong and quick to poke away the ball, as he did once against Doncic. On this Josh Green drive, Lowry knew he would be in a great spot to help since he was guarding/roaming off of Daniel Gafford.

The 76ers ask a lot out of Batum and Lowry, perhaps more than any other team asks out of a duo with a combined age of 70 years or more. But that’s because they can deliver.

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About the Author

Sam DiGiovanni started at ClutchPoints as an associate editor in 2021 and became the site’s Philadelphia 76ers beat reporter ahead of the 2022-23 season. He graduated from Marist College in May of 2022 and has written for TheKnicksWall.com and CenterFieldMarist.com in the past.

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