The 3rd-seeded Philadelphia 76ers (33-17) faced the lowly 13th-seeded Orlando Magic (20-32) for the second straight game yesterday. Philadelphia came into this game after losing to the Magic on January 30th, 119-109. However, in this game, the Sixers was able to come out on top, 105-94.
Takeaway 1 – Hot Start and Strong Finish for the Sixers
The Sixers outscored the Magic in three of the four quarters of the game. In the first quarter, though, Philadelphia was able to set the tempo and outscore the Magic 37-23, thanks in large part to Joel Embiid’s great play, along with great ball movement from James Harden and the whole team. Despite Gary Harris scoring nine points on his first three shot attempts, the Sixers were able to put an incredible first quarter together.
In the second and third quarters, the Magic forced their way back into the game. Orlando outscored Philly 30-19 in the second quarter. In the third, the Magic kept it close. Philly outscored Orlando 26-25, making for a crucial fourth quarter for both teams. In the fourth, Philadelphia’s defense took over, holding the Magic to 16 points, while the Sixers scored 23. Their fourth-quarter defense was incredible, and while it came against a team like the Magic, it was still impressive to see how the Sixers locked in to win that game in the 4th.
Takeaway 2 – James Harden Looks Fantastic
James Harden is having a very good season, averaging 21.4 points and 11.0 assists as Philly’s second to third option. His playmaking has been invaluable to a team that struggled for it last year. The former MVP played even better last night, though, scoring 26 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and securing ten assists. The guard also contributed one steal. His shooting was also key last night, as he went 6/10 from three, a new season high for The Beard.
James Harden looks more and more comfortable each and every week in Philadelphia. His game continues to mesh, and he has regularly shown his ability to dominate as MVP Harden in short bursts when needed. If this is the Harden we get come playoff time, then the Sixers could really be dangerous.
Takeaway 3 – Joel Embiid’s Greatness
Joel Embiid didn’t have a special game this week. He has come back down to earth and shown that he is human. The funny thing is, when Joel looks human, he still has the best game out of anyone on the court. Joel had 28 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, one block, and only two turnovers. Embiid is so good at this game called basketball that when he has games like this, no one bats an eye, despite the fact that he is undeniably the best player on the court.