After nearly five months of not having a meaningful game, the Sixers have reminded their fans of just how up and down they can be. After Brett Brown and his team allowed TJ Warren to drop 53 points in a loss against Indiana, they did bounce back. To follow up that painful game, the Sixers rebounded with back to back wins over the Spurs and Wizards. Next up, the 76ers have a testy matchup against the pesty Orlando Magic.
Coverage will begin at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia, with radio coverage on 97.5 the Fantatic. The game can be caught on TNT with tip off scheduled for 6:30.
Currently, the betting lines are still uncertain, as both teams are awaiting crucial injury updates.
Speaking of injuries…
The 76ers are currently holding their breath. All-Star Ben Simmons limped to the locker room with a knee injury during Wednesday’s win over the Wizards and the diagnosis is a partially dislocated left kneecap. Simmons will remain out indefinitely. This, of course, could put their hopes of a deep playoff run in jeopardy.
With Simmons’ absence, they will rely on guys like Shake Milton and Tobias Harris to pick up some slack. Harris has played well in the bubble, averaging 24 points per game and shooting just under 39% from three. Along with this, Tobias has averaged about seven rebounds in the bubble, which could be crucial with the Sixers missing Ben. As for Shake Milton, he has come back strong after his little encounter with Joel Embiid. Despite dropping a donut in his 19 minutes against the Pacers, Shake has picked up 14 and 16 points in back to back games.
On the flip side, the Orlando Magic will likely be without a key player as well. Aaron Gordon exited the game with hamstring tightness after Kyle Lowry committed a hard foul on him.Gordon’s injury doesn’t appear to be a long-term issue, according to reports, though he’s expected to sit out against the Sixers. The Magic are already without forward Jonathan Issac after he tore his ACL last week. However, on a more positive note for Orlando, former 76er Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams looks to make his return to the lineup from injury.
The Sixers have had little to no success against the Magic this season. In two attempts, they have failed to beat Orlando this season. The Sixers have failed to crack 100 points in each of those games, while Orlando has scored 98 and 112. It’s no secret that the Magic are constantly a trap game for Philly. I mean, at this point, it shouldn’t even be a trap- the Magic just have their number.
Before their loss to the Raptors Wednesday night, Orlando had gone over in 15 straight games. They have consistently shown to be a high scoring team, but have also shown to have defensive deficiencies. The Sixers, who have had little success scoring against Orlando this season, will need to take advantage of this.
Philadelphia currently a half game back of fifth place in the Eastern Conference as well, adding to the importance of this game. The Sixers have already given Indiana the tie breaker for that fifth spot, and can not afford to drop a game against Orlando in this tight race for seeding.
Philadelphia is in a great spot to prove the haters wrong. With a lineup built like theirs, they could really turn into the team to beat in the playoffs. With a healthy Joel Embiid playing to his ceiling, the Sixers will rely on his recent success in double teamed situations. Despite having the Sixers’ number this season, Joel Embiid alone gives the Sixers the edge in this game, double teamed or not. He’s playing with an edge, but the 76ers will also need shooting to improve if they want any chance.
This one should be lower scoring again, and expect the Sixers to finally find their footing defensively. Sixers win, 108-101.
Mandatory Credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports