Off the heels of their 3-0 homestand, the Philadelphia 76ers are in Orlando for a quick two-game road trip, starting out against the Magic, looking to extend their winning streak to four games. The Sixers are coming into the game after their thrilling victory over the Denver Nuggets, while the Magic have lost four of their last five games and have dropped to 8th place in the Eastern Conference.
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Sixers game info
Who: Philadelphia 76ers (26-13) at Orlando Magic (22-19)
When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Kia Center, Orlando, FL.
Watch: Bally Sports Florida, NBA League Pass, NBC Sports Florida
Sixers vs Nuggets betting info
Spread: Sixers -5 | Magic +5
Moneyline: Sixers -205 | Magic +170
Total: Over/Under 223
Latest on the Sixers
The Sixers have reigning MVP Joel Embiid back in the lineup and have picked up where they left off when the center went down with an injury. Embiid has played the last two games and had 41 points in both games. Embiid is coming off the Sixers’ most recent win over the defending champion Denver Nuggets, which saw him go head-to-head against Nikola Jokic, and the Sixers came out on top, 126-121. A victory over a team like the Nuggets has to show that this Sixers team is different than the past few years.
Guard Tyrese Maxey finished the Nuggets game with 25 points and 9 assists, and while Maxey hasn’t been shooting as well as he’d like, he’s still shooting 38.5% on his three-point attempts but over 50% in the last three games. Having Embiid back really helps Maxey get better looks and will continue to see his percentage go back up, closer to his career average of 40.5% from deep.
The Sixers have been getting good play all around of late, especially from forward Tobias Harris. Harris has had two low-scoring games since the start of the new year, and they weren’t from poor shooting but rather a lack of shots taken. Harris has been averaging 21.3 points per game since January 1st. If he can continue that pace, the Sixers may look at keeping him for a run in the playoffs, as he’s finally found a groove. The Sixers’ big three have been playing like a top trio in the league this year, and I hope that can continue through the rest of the season.
Latest on the Magic
The Magic have not had a good run of things of late. They’ve lost four of their last five games, their lone win coming against the Knicks in New York on Monday. They’ve lost to the Heat, Thunder, Timberwolves, and most recently, the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks game has to be especially hurtful as the game was close until Dejounte Murray hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer to take down the Magic, 106-104.
The Magic have Paolo Banchero leading them in the three main stats with 22.9 points, 7 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. Banchero is a handful at 6’10” and 250 lbs, whose size will create problems for the Sixers frontcourt to defend. While Embiid is an elite defender, he’s going to have to deal with Wendell Carter Jr. and Goga Bitadze, who both have the size and weight to at least put a big body on Embiid. That leaves Banchero to work against Nico Batum and Tobias Harris, which is ideal for him.
Second leading scorer Franz Wagner is out for the Magic, missing his 8th straight game with an ankle injury. The Magic have three wins and four losses in the games he’s missed since injuring his ankle, but they’ve been on a real slide over the past five. Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs are going to have to pick up some slack if the Magic are going to be competitive until Wagner gets back.
What to watch for tonight
With Embiid back into his groove, could he put up another 40+ point performance against the Magic? Absolutely. Embiid has been playing on a whole different level this season, and he keeps getting better as the season goes on. Tonight, while the Magic have some size at the center position, it’s not going to matter. Embiid has done what he wants on the court all season, as he’s leading the league in scoring and having the best year of his career so far.
The Sixers defense will have to be up to the task tonight with Banchero and they have plenty of people that they can throw at the young forward. In addition to Harris and Batum, the Sixers still have Paul Reed and Kelly Oubre Jr., who can provide some size and defense to keep Banchero under control.
This game could quickly get out of control tonight while Embiid is doing his usual on the court, if Maxey and Harris can get going early, while getting the reserves some quality minutes, Embiid could be sitting in the fourth quarter again.
Former #1 overall pick and Sixers guard Markelle Fultz is back for the Magic. Fultz, after having a good season last year and appearing in 60 games, has only appeared in 10 games this year after battling another knee injury. Fultz had 10 points in 30 minutes against the Hawks, and he could see just as many minutes tonight as the team tries to get him back into a regular role.
Fultz, after everything that happened in Philly when he was drafted, has had an up-and-down career, but it is a good story if he can get back to being healthy and playing regularly. Oddly enough, the Sixers have been mentioned as a destination for Fultz if the Magic look to move on from him as he’s on an expiring contract, and the Magic have a good number of quality guards. This could be a Fultz audition for the Sixers and a return to the city that drafted him.
Sixers 131 – Magic 114