The Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated from the play-offs in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Boston Celtics.
This game got ugly in the second half as the Celtics went on a 28-3 run in the third quarter to comfortably win 112-88.
Not to mention the fact that Jayson Tatum dropped 51 points to bury the Sixers and send them home packing.
This was a disappointing end to the Sixers’ season, who had aspirations of an NBA title, especially with MVP winner Joel Embiid on their roster.
Now heading into the offseason, questions must be asked regarding their roster, which starts with the future of James Harden and Doc Rivers.
Early reports suggest that Harden's return to play for the 76ers could be directly linked to whether or not they bring back Rivers as the head coach.
If Philadelphia decide to bring back Rivers, it looks as if Harden may opt to not return to Philadelphia.
Since becoming the head coach of the 76ers, Rivers has accumulated a regular season record of 154-82 (.653).
However, in the play-offs, he is just 20-15 (.571) and has failed to get out of the second round for three consecutive seasons.
The Sixers have a solid core of Embiid, Harden, Tobias Harris, and Tyrese Maxey, but after those four players, the offensive production drops off significantly.
Add in the fact that if Harden does opt out, the 76ers are going to need some help.
A good way to do this is through free agency.
Adding depth looks to be the focal point, especially in the forward position.
They could even use another center, as when Embiid went out for a time during the playoffs, the Sixers were short of cover.
A lot of these decisions going forward will likely depend on Harden’s decision whether or not to return, but they are worth noting as they just could not get enough production, especially when Embiid and Harden were struggling toward the end of the series with Boston.
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Embiid and Harden are the most well-known players on the Sixers, but Maxey has quietly become one of the most reliable players on this team.
During the regular season, Maxey averaged 20.3 points per game.
This ever so slightly increased to 20.5 points per game in the play-offs.
It is also worth noting that Maxey was the second-leading scorer for the 76ers in the play-offs, behind only Embiid.
The former Kentucky guard did most of his damage from behind the three-point line, shooting 40% in the play-offs.
This was a huge boost to help the 76ers get as far as they did, especially when Harden had an off night shooting the ball.
Again, if Harden leaves the Sixers in the offseason, expect Maxey’s numbers to continue to improve.
Since being drafted in 2020, Maxey has seen his points per game average increase every year, from 8.0 points in 2020/2021 to 17.5 points in 2021/2022 and now to 20.3 points in 2022/2023.
Other than Embiid, Maxey should start being considered a focal point of this offense.
He is still very young but has already had some big moments in his career.
He also could very well be the difference between the Sixers making a deep postseason run in the future or flaming out in the second round, as they have been known to do in recent seasons.
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