Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey discuss next steps after Sixers elimination

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers are once again dealing with an early elimination following a 118-115 loss to the New York Knicks in Game 6 on Thursday. The Sixers were unable to come up with the big plays down the stretch and the Knicks finished it off.

This was something of a lost season for the Sixers. They had to go through a lot of adversity due to the absence of Joel Embiid who missed 43 games due to a meniscus procedure on his left knee. It derailed what was a brilliant start to the season.

The absence did see the rise of Tyrese Maxey as a legitimate star in this league. The ball was in Maxey’s hands constantly and the 23-year-old became an All-Star.

So, the question now becomes what’s next for them?

“If I remember correctly, in training camp, early this year, that’s the first thing I mentioned,” Embiid recalled. “Every single year it’s always been one person comes in and the following year they’re gone. The same thing just kept happening–kept happening the last few years. This is really the first time where you got him, and obviously, he’s taken a step, and he was amazing this year. One of the 10 best players in the world this year and now you finally get the chance to build around it.”

Build. That is going to be the keyword throughout the offseason for the Sixers. They have Embiid and Maxey now as the fulcrum of what this team wants to do. The two of them were nearly unstoppable as a tandem when the big fella was healthy.

“You got this guy, as young as he is, and you have people like myself and some of the other guys we have in the locker room, and you have a lot of cap space to make it happen,” Embiid added. “So I think one of the big things when it comes to winning is, I mean you look at all the teams that have won, you can’t just put people together for one year and hope that it is going to work out.”

Embiid has been hoping for continuity for a while now. He has been hoping to have somebody he can turn to and build with that player. He now has it in Maxey.

“Obviously, we have some experience together and so I think that’s the way to go,” Embiid added. “You just have to keep going, keep building around it, and find the right mix of people to make it happen, but yeah, I’m excited.”

Maxey has been able to take steps forward as a player in this league and growing with a guy such as Embiid has been fantastic for him four years into his career.

“It’s been amazing,” Maxey said of the growth with Embiid. “I’ve seen him do some extraordinary things honestly and for me, it’s just motivation because I see him keep working every single summer. I see him come back and he finds a way to get better at something. It’s funny, I used to mess with him last year about how he couldn’t shoot right-handed in pull-ups and he said I’m going to be able to do it and I just mess with him in the locker room. I’ve never seen in my four years actually back someone down and do jump hooks, he was doing that tonight (Game 6).”

Embiid has continued to challenge Maxey to get better every day. Every step of the way, the big fella has been in his ear to help him take that next leap.

“Just as a partnership, as a friend, as a brother, I appreciate him because he was one of the first believers in me from day one,” Maxey added. “I talk about the Denver game, the COVID game, I just remember him walking out because he wasn’t playing and I was. He said ‘Can you get 40? Because I think you can. Go out there and score 40.’ Myself at the time, I’m like ‘I’ve played eight games in the NBA, I don’t think I’ll make 40’, but for him to believe in me to do something like that, it was special and I appreciate him.”

Now, the goal has to be to build off this, Maxey and the Sixers have a chance to build around the duo of himself and Embiid and Philadelphia has to take advantage of it.

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire