Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers: Game Preview
Earlier this season, the Orlando Magic traveled to Boston and handed the league-leading Celtics their first regulation loss at home of their 2022-23 campaign.
Just two nights later, the Magic proved their first win was no fluke by putting in a hard defensive effort and earning their second straight triumph in Boston.
The Magic have the opportunity to pull off a similar feat against another Eastern Conference powerhouse.
Facing a 21-point deficit, Orlando rallied and tied its sixth-biggest comeback win in franchise history with a 119-109 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.
Now the Magic (20-31) will look to make it two in a row in Philadelphia when they face the Sixers (32-17) again on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.
“We can play anyone,” said Magic rookie Paolo Banchero, who had a team-high 29 points Monday. “We can beat anybody. We’re a really good team. We just have to learn to put in that effort every night. Like you said, we’ve beaten every good team in the NBA. We just lost to a lot of teams that we shouldn’t have. So it’s up to us to be able to take a game like this where we play very well in the second half and beat a very good team. We have to be able to take this game and apply it to the next one, and then to the next game, whoever it is.
With a season sweep of the defending champion Golden State Warriors, multiple wins over the Celtics and plenty of triumphs over other playoff-seeking teams under their belt, Banchero’s point stands. And picking up another victory over the Sixers can only help one of the NBA’s youngest teams gain the confidence to take another step forward in their development.
“It comes down to just believing,” said Magic point guard Markelle Fultz, who notched a double-double in her first game in Philadelphia since being traded to Orlando in 2019. “You know, understanding that as long as we believe and keep fighting every night, give yourself a chance against any team in this league. We work for this. We all work and we should believe it. Again, we just have to keep building, keep improving every day and win the game.
After seeing their seven-game winning streak shattered by the Magic, the Sixers will certainly be out for revenge.
MVP candidate Joel Embiid will once again be at the forefront of Philadelphia’s offensive attack. The 7-foot, 280-pound center posted game highs in points (30), rebounds (11) and blocks (2) on Monday. And these numbers are not an anomaly.
Embiid is posting an NBA-best 33.6 points per game, with 10.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. If his numbers hold up, Embiid will be the first player since 1974-75 to average at least 33 points and 10 rebounds in a season.
Orlando will also have to focus on 10-time NBA All-Star James Harden, who is averaging 21.3 points and a league-leading 11.0 dimes per contest.
As a unit, the Magic will have to limit the Sixers’ ability to generate points on turnovers – their 19.0 points per game in this category ranks fifth in the conference – and their shooting at 3 points. Philly knocks down 38.4% of its shots from the outside, the fourth-highest mark in the NBA.
KEY STATISTIC: The Magic’s win on Monday ended a 10-game losing streak against the Sixers overall and an eight-game losing streak at Philadelphia.
It was Orlando’s first win over the Sixers since Dec. 27, 2019, and their first victory in Philadelphia since Dec. 2, 2016.
IN AND OUT: Wendell Carter Jr. (right foot; strained plantar fascia) appeared on the team’s injury report and is questionable. Only Chuma Okeke (left knee surgery) is listed as absent.
For Philadelphia, Embiid (left foot pain) is questionable, while Julian Champagnie (G League – Two-Way), Louis King (G League – Two-Way) and Jaden Springer (G League – On Assignment) are absent.
QUOTE OF NOTE: “(Jalen Suggs and Moe Wagner) were amazing. We always say it’s by committee, and this group fully represents that. They provided such a spark of energy. Jalen’s defensive effort and energy was special. And he has that gift, so I think the more he takes advantage of it, the better off we’ll continue to be. – Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley on two of Orlando’s high-energy players who came off the bench and had a major impact on Monday
HOW TO WATCH: Watch the game on Bally Sports Florida or tune in to the radio via FM 96.9 The Game.