Can the injury-plagued Sixers find a way past Paolo Banchero and the Magic?

Tobias Harris
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Forward Tobias Harris (12) looks on during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic are on such different paths, they might as well be on different planets. Even the stars within each franchise’s orbit are like night and day. At least the Magic’s young stars will be visible at the Amway Center Friday night, while the Sixers won’t see theirs again for another few weeks. 

Game Info for Sixers/Magic

When: Friday, November 25, 2022

Tipoff: 7:00 pm EST

Where: Orlando, FL | Amway Center

How to watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia

Joe Embiid is listed as out due to a foot injury he sustained against Minnesota last weekend. In addition, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey will miss another game because of injury. Matisse Thybulle will also be sidelined against the Magic. 

Orlando gets back a few key players who missed several games recently. According to Khobi Price from the Orlando Sentinel, Paolo Banchero and Moe Wagner will suit up tonight versus the Sixers. Banchero, the Magic’s promising, young power forward has not played since the first week of November, so some rust could be expected. 

The first overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft is averaging 23.5 points and 8.3 rebounds. The Magic appear to have struck gold because he is as skilled as he is strong, also averaging 3.6 assists per game as a big man. He seems to have the whole package, even at a young age. He will be a treat to watch as a basketball fan tonight but a nightmare to guard for players like Tobias Harris and Georges Niang. 

Speaking of Harris…the stable veteran is coming off an inefficient night in Charlotte where he scored 19 points on 20 shots. In 37 minutes, he secured only 5 rebounds and shot 11 percent (1-9) from beyond the arc. Although he and the 76ers were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, Harris must play better to help defeat the Magic. 

Playing two consecutive nights is what deflated the Sixers in the fourth quarter of the Hornets matchup. Losing their shooting touch and turning the ball over late in the game proved costly. After the Charlotte game, Doc Rivers expressed satisfaction for his team playing hard, but he admitted, “We ran out of gas.” Hopefully, the Sixers will be somewhat rested and did not overdo it at the dinner table on Thanksgiving. The Magic are a team with young legs. 

Although Orlando is the fourth youngest team in the NBA with an age average of 23.94, the Magic are last in the league in fast break points. The 76ers cannot take this stat for granted because several players are having career years. Wendell Carter Jr., Franz Wagner, and Bol Bol have increased their production in key categories. Also, without Joel Embiid to anchor the middle, Philly will have a tough time against the taller front court lineups that the Magic can put on the floor. 

A pleasant surprise for Sixers fans in the absence of key players has to be the overall play of De’Anthony Melton and recent play of Shake Milton. This unexpected backcourt tandem has put up much needed points and been Philadelphia’s only ball handlers as Maxey and Harden heal. Turnovers have tarnished Milton’s box score the past few games, and he will have to protect the ball better despite Orlando causing the thirst fewest turnovers per game (12.6) in the NBA.

Stepping up his scoring the last four games, Milton has averaged 20 points. On the boards, Paul Reed has averaged 7.25 rebounds in his past four matchups. In that same span of games, De’Anthony Melton has attempted 32 total three-pointers, where he typically averages less than a handful a game.

The Magic currently stand near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, tied with the Hornets and Pistons for fewest wins (5). The 76ers occupy a play-in spot with a record of 9-9. On the road the Sixers are 3-4 while Orlando is 4-5 at home. 

Interesting Sixers rankings:

  • 3rd in NBA: Steals per game (8.4) 
  • 5th in NBA: Defensive rating (108.6)
  • 4th in NBA: Mid-range FG% (48.4)
  • 2nd in NBA: Points allowed per game (106.6)

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Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire