The celebrations had already started at Madison Square Garden, and probably throughout New York City as well. The tweets were fired off. Though they were quickly deleted, the internet never forgets.

The Knicks had the game, and series, won. Or so Knicks fans thought. But then, Tyrese Maxey happened.

Maxey has been ascending all season -- as evidenced by his first All-Star selection and his most Improved Player Award -- but he authored the most heroic playoff performance of his career in Game 5 against the Knicks when the 76ers needed him most.

With reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid clearly laboring throughout the course of the contest and not providing his usual output, especially on the offensive end, Maxey was prepared -- and willing -- to step up.

After the game -- a 112-106 overtime victory to extend the season -- Maxey told Embiid, "I got you," and he did.

7 clutch points in 27 seconds

With 27 seconds remaining in the game Philadelphia trailed 96-90 and the outlook appeared grim, but Maxey refused to throw in the towel. First, he converted a four-point play to cut the score to 96-94. He came off of a screen from Embiid, took a bump from Mitchell Robinson, maintained his focus and knocked down both the shot and the subsequent free throw.

The Sixers then fouled Josh Hart, who converted one of two free throw attempts to push the score to 97-94 in New York's favor. But, Maxey had another answer, this time in the form of a 30+ footer in the closing seconds that silenced that once-raucous crowd and propelled the game into overtime.

The rest, as they say, is history. The Sixers went on to pull out the win in overtime (Maxey scored five points in the extra five minutes), and now the series shifts back to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Thursday night.

It was an all-time playoff performance from the 23-year old Maxey -- a career-defining moment that will only grow in lore if the Sixers are ultimately able to advance past New York.

Even if they don't, Maxey showed something that won't get lost in the outcome of a single series -- he's a killer.  A closer. An unflappable finisher. He's "him," as the kids say these days. The dude has the utmost confidence in himself -- buoyed by an infallible work ethic -- and it's contagious. He put the Sixers on his back in Game 5 and carried the team to a postseason victory in a way that very few have in franchise history.

It was performance that was reminiscent of Allen Iverson, and fittingly so, as Maxey became the first Sixers player with 45 points, five assists and five rebounds in a playoff game since... Iverson in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals, a.k.a. the most epic Sixers playoff performance of the past 25 years.

Without Maxey's heroics, the Sixers season would be over. But, the buoyant baller isn't lingering on his awe-inspiring performance, not with the Sixers still trailing 3-2 in the series.

"[It] sounds cliché but I'm trying to flush this game," Maxey said shortly after his Game 5 masterpiece. "I know what we have to do in 48 hours, and we can't let this roll over. We have to watch this like a whole new game. Our season is back on the line again come Thursday."


Follow Michael Kaskey-Blomain on X @therealmikekb.

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