Sixers vs Magic: 3 takeaways from a dominant win

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid dunks during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors, Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Sixers vs Magic: The Philadelphia 76ers were without Joel Embiid again after a Christmas Night loss in Miami. In the next game against the Orlando Magic, the outcome was very different.

Good balance

Against a young and hungry team like the Orlando Magic, the Sixers roster had to pull together on the road. The starters and the bench players had to pitch in to match the point production of Orlando’s athletic wings. 

With the exception of Kelly Oubre, Jr. who had four points, everyone else in the starting lineup scored in double figures. Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, and De’Anthony Melton put up over 20 points each.

Harris, who used to play for Orlando, is breaking out of a slump just before Christmas. In the last three games, he is averaging 27 points. Maxey, who had one of the worst performances of his career on Christmas night versus the Heat, put up 23 points in Orlando. Paul Reed recorded a double-double, racking up 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Philadelphia 76ers guard De’Anthony Melton (8) and Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry, right, go for a loose ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Sixers bench had solid contributions from Patrick Beverley and Marcus Morris, Sr. against the Magic. They combined for 24 points. Mo Bamba, one of the few bright spots from Christmas night, did not score in the Orlando game, but he did secure seven rebounds in 16 minutes.

Sixers display solid D against the Magic

The Sixers had plenty of scouting material on Orlando prior to the matchup. With Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, the front court for Philly had their hands full. Yet, according to Nick Nurse, the Sixers executed their defensive game plan as expected.

Chicago Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan, left, tries to get past Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Nurse admitted in the post-game press conference, “I think we were really good defensively in the half court.” 

It definitely showed.

As a team, the Orlando Magic only shot 39 percent from the field. The 76ers not only dominated the paint on offense with a 58-40 scoring advantage, they also outrebounded the Magic 48-43.

Nurse’s defensive scheme helped cause 16 turnovers, which led to 23 fastbreak points.

The Sixers are heating up at the right time

Although Joel Embiid is nursing a bad ankle, the Sixers are still in third place in the Eastern Conference standings. The team is 8-2 in their last 10 games, and they still hold the top spot in the point differential category among all NBA teams.

The 76ers had a nice bounce-back game from Maxey, who looked like himself against the Magic. His ability to get to the rim and knock down threes helped propel Philly past Orlando. 

Tobias Harris, who had been getting criticism for a string of bad games, received praise after the road victory. Nick Nurse stated about Harris, “He played really at a good tempo. He played with a good rhythm.”

If the Sixers hope to stay in the hunt for the number one seed, they will need Maxey and Harris to complement Joel Embiid’s impressive offensive output for the rest of the season.

The 76ers play the Houston Rockets next on the road. Tip-off is on Friday, December 29th at 8pm EST.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum)