Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers: Game Preview

Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers: Game Preview

Facing one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference in back-to-back games is a tough task, but one the Orlando Magic are very familiar with.

Earlier this season, the Magic were presented with the same scenario, picking up a pair of wins over the league-leading Boston Celtics as part of a stretch where Orlando won eight of nine games.

Now the Magic (19-31) will look to pull off a similar feat when they go head-to-head with the Philadelphia 76ers (32-16) in back-to-back games, kicking off with a Monday night game at 7 p.m. E.T.

“These are big challenges,” Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said. “We talk about can we grow from game to game. Can we take the experience of the last few games from us not necessarily taking care of the basketball as well as we would like and can we put it into action tonight. So, I think it’s really big for us to keep our spacing the right way, make sure we make on time, on target passes, and just understand our execution.”

The Sixers have won seven in a row, thanks in part to the sensational play of perennial All-Star center Joel Embiid.

The 7-foot, 280-pound big man is making a strong case to be the league’s MVP, averaging an NBA-best 33.8 points per game to go along with 10.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. If his numbers hold, Embiid will become the first player since 1974-75 to average at least 33 points and 10 rebounds in a season.

While Embiid leads the league in scoring, guard James Harden is no. 1 in assists. The 10-time NBA All-Star is averaging 21.4 points to go along with an astounding 11.2 dimes per contest.

Also high on the scouting report will be guard Tyrese Maxey, who is the third Philadelphia player to average more than 20 points per game, pouring in 21.0 of them per outing.

The Magic are all too familiar with the true depth of this Sixers squad. Orlando hosted Philadelphia for two straight meetings at Amway Center on November 25th and 27th. Even without the three aforementioned threats, the Sixers managed two wins by a combined 38 points.

Two additional areas of concern are Philadelphia’s ability to generate points off turnovers – their 19.0 points per game in that category is third in the association – and their 3-point shooting. The Sixers are hitting 38.5 percent of their shots from outside, the fourth-best mark in the NBA.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s super special. This is the first time I’ve played in Philly since being traded. So, definitely a lot of excitement. Not to put extra pressure on myself or anything like that, but definitely a lot of excitement just to go out there and play in front of these fans on the other side.” – Markelle Fultz on playing in Philadelphia

IN AND OUT: It’s hard to remember a time when the Magic’s availability record was this short. Only Chuma Okeke (left knee surgery) will be unavailable for Orlando’s showdown with the Sixers. However, Okeke did travel with the team on their four-game road trip.

“Having all our guys available is awesome to see,” Mosley said. “I think we had a film session for the first time with everyone in the room, which was great. Just that energy in that environment. Chuma who is here. It’s great to have him on board. He’s actively moving around the court, getting shots, getting work in, getting a little more physical contact with guys. So, I think it’s very good for him to be on this trip.”

For Philadelphia, Embiid (sore left foot) is questionable, while Julian Champagnie (G League – Two-Way) and Louis King (G League – Two-Way) are out.

KEY STATS: Against the Chicago Bulls, center Moe Wagner fired off 16 straight Magic points to help Orlando cut a 25-point deficit to five. In the process, he tied the fifth-most consecutive points scored by a player in franchise history.

The most are 20, set by Terrence Ross on January 9, 2022 against the Washington Wizards and Tracy McGrady on February 21, 2003 also against the Bulls. T-Mac’s name appears quite a few times on that list, as the seven-time NBA All-Star scored 16 or more straight points for Orlando on five different occasions.

HOW TO WATCH: Watch the game on Bally Sports Florida or tune in on radio via FM 96.9 The Game.

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