Game Day 71 sees the Magic play in Philadelphia as they take on the 76ers. The Sixers need one more win to secure the top seed in the East before the close of the regular season on Sunday night.
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The tip time is shown on the NBA app and Orlando Magic website as being a 1:00am here in the UK (8:00pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando).
THE MATCHUP AS THE MAGIC PLAY IN PHILADELPHIA
Both teams are on the second night of a back-to-back. Both teams had to travel to Philly for the game tonight.
The Sixers played last night taking a road loss to the Miami Heat by 94-106. The game saw the Heat lead by 16 at the end of the first quarter and 19 at half time. In truth it was a comfortable win for Miami. The Sixers were led in scoring by former Magic favourite Tobias Harris with 21 points. Rebounding for Philadelphia was also led by another former Magic star Dwight Howard with 7. The Sixers struggled with shooting both from deep (28%) and the free throw line (75%).
The Magic lost an ugly road game with the Atlanta Hawks by 93-116, a game that Orlando never looked like competing in. Only 4 Orlando players had double digit scoring on the back of an abysmal 38.3% shooting display from the field. Every facet of scoring for the Magic was stuttering, going only 30.6% with the three ball and 66.7% from the free throw line. RJ Hampton had another double figure scoring game as he led the team in scoring with 18 points adding 5 assists, 8 rebounds and a block. Cole Anthony led the team in assists with 6, also adding 7 rebounds, a steal and 12 points.. Wendell Carter Jr recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Donta Hall was the other Magic player to score in double figures.
The Sixers have won 27 of 34 games at home this season. Orlando have won 10 of 34 games on the road. Season records see Orlando at 21-49, whilst Philadelphia are 47-23. Across the last 10 games that each team has played Philadelphia hold a 8-2 record and Orlando are at 3-7. The Sixers have lost their last 2 games and Orlando have lost the last 5.
Results see Philadelphia 1st and Orlando 14th in the Eastern Conference.
The Sixers come into the game as the NBA’s 13th ranked offensive team, scoring on average 113.3 points per game. Orlando are 29th with an average of 103.9 points per game, only Cleveland rate below the Magic.
Philadelphia have a defensive rating at 2nd and sees them conceding 108.1 points per game. Orlando are 26th and concede 113 points per game.
OUR OPPONENTS – THE PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
Being swept from the playoffs last season caused something of a reset for Philly. Out went Coach Brett Brown, in came Coach Doc Rivers. Their roster changed as in came Danny Green, Seth Curry and Dwight Howard, whilst out went Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Alec Burks, Raul Neto, Kyle O’Quinn and Zhaire Smith.
They are happy to play at pace, getting 15 fast break points per game, which is third highest in the NBA. However they tend to be a patient team and are not afraid to use the shot clock to build a possession. They score 53.3% of their 113.3 points per game as two point shots and 47.3 points comes from inside the paint (42% of total points scored). 29.3% of their points per game come from beyond the arc. They shoot 47.6% from the field and 37% with the 3 ball. Assists per game relatively low at 23.4 per game, reflecting their ability to create individual opportunities, especially the drive to the basket.
They get to the line a lot, particularly Joel Embiid. Philadelphia shoot 25,6 free throws per game and make 19.6 of them. This 76.6% efficiency sees a joint league leading 17.3% of their points per game come from the line (level with Atlanta).
They block shots at a rate that is second best in the league at 6.2 times per game, whilst for steals they lead the league with 9.1 per game. They turn the ball over at higher rate of 14.5 times per game. The turnover rate results in a 29th worst NBA rate of 14.4 fast break points per game conceded. On average they foul 20.1 times per game which results in 22.4 free throws faced per game.
They do a good job on the glass, rebounding well on both ends of the court, being 7th in total rebounds.
THE PHILADELPHIA 76ERS SQUAD
Coach Doc Rivers used a starting line-up last night of Ben Simmons (14.3 PPG), Seth Curry (12.3 PPG), Danny Green (9.5 PPG), Tobias Harris (19.7 PPG) and Joel Embiid (28.8 PPG).
From the bench came Shake Milton (12.9 PPG), Furkan Kormuz (9.2 PPG), Tyrese Maxey (7.6 PPG), George Hill (8.7 PPG) Dwight Howard (7 PPG), Isaiah Joe (3.2 PPG) Mike Scott (4.1 PPG), Paul Reed (2.8 PPG) and Anthony Tolliver (0.9 PPG).
The squad also features Matisse Thybulle (3.9 PPG), Rayjon Tucker (1.8 PPG) and former Magic forward Gary Clark (3.2 PPG).
According to ESPN as I write only Matisse Thybulle (3.9 PPG) is of any concern, being day-to-day with a hand injury.
THE HEAD-TO-HEAD – THE PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
The Magic lead the all time head-to-head regular season matchup by 79-40 in 119 games played.
The teams have met once this season on Game Day 5 on New Years Eve when the Magic lost at home by 116-92.
Last season the Magic won the three game series 2-1, both wins being in the Amway. The loss came during the restart seeding games in the Walt Disney World bubble on August 7th.
In the playoffs it is 5-5, Philly taking the 1999 series 3-1, Orlando the 2009 series 4-2. Both series were first round match ups.
THE ORLANDO INJURY REPORT AS THE MAGIC PLAY IN PHILADELPHIA
As I write the injury report on ESPN is unchanged and reads:
Mo Bamba (7.9 PPG) is listed as day-to-day but questionable with an illness.
Chuma Okeke (7.8 PPG) is out after turning his ankle against Cleveland. He may not play again this season.
Terrence Ross (15.6 PPG) is out with back spasms. He has no timetable to return and may not play again this season.
James Ennis III (8.4 PPG) is out with a calf injury and may not play again this season.
Otto Porter Jr (9.7 PPG) is out with a foot injury. He has no timetable to return and may not play again this season.
Michael Carter-Williams (8.8 PPG) is out with an ankle injury and may not play again this season.
Markelle Fultz (12.9 PPG) is out indefinitely recovering from knee surgery for a torn ACL.
Jonathan Isaac is out indefinitely recovering from knee surgery for a torn ACL.
THE ORLANDO LINE-UP AS THE MAGIC PLAY IN PHILADELPHIA
Orlando have used 32 starting units this season, the most in the team’s history. With 28 players having featured on the squad in the season that is another franchise record.
The Magic starting unit used by Coach Clifford against Atlanta was Dwayne Bacon (11.1 PPG), Moritz Wagner (6.7 PPG), Cole Anthony (12.4 PPG), Gary Harris (10.1 PPG) and Wendell Carter Jr (11.4 PPG).
From the bench came RJ Hampton (6.8 PPG), Ignas Brazdeikis (5.5 PPG), Sindarius Thornwell (1.6 PPG), Donta Hall (4.7 PPG) and Chasson Randle (6.2 PPG).
RECORD FOR LEAST AND LARGEST ON THE SEASON
LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY – 20 – GAME DAY 7 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
LARGEST MARGIN OF DEFEAT – 46 – GAME DAY 49 UTAH JAZZ
HIGHEST POINTS SCORED THIS SEASON – 130 – GAME DAY 2 WASHINGTON WIZARDS
LEAST POINTS SCORED THIS SEASON – 75 – GAME DAY 63 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
MOST POINTS CONCEDED THIS SEASON – 137 – GAME DAY 49 UTAH JAZZ
LEAST POINTS CONCEDED THIS SEASON – 83 – GAME DAY 7 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
KEYS TO THE GAMES AS THE MAGIC PLAY IN PHILADELPHIA
Tonight could see Philadelphia rest players so close to the start of the post season. However if they wish to secure the number 1 seed a win is required still. Therefore it is possible we face a full strength team who come out looking to put the game to bed early.
Being realistic Orlando concede as many points per game as they Sixers score per game. Philadelphia do concede 5 points more per game than Orlando average so the opportunity to score will be present. Finding a way to do so has been Orlando’s issue all season. Points from turnovers will be available as the Sixers are vulnerable to the fast break. Getting to the free throw line and making those shots will help Orlando in their chase of points.
Philly will attack the paint and will try to draw fouls. Orlando need to avoid reaching in and ensure that they defend with focus. Any error will be punished. Ben Simmons possesses excellent court vision and sees him having 6.9 assists per game.
On defence Philadelphia boast impressive numbers in blocks and steals. Live ball turnovers must be kept to a minimum or the resulting scores can allow the Sixers to get a lead quickly and easily.
Joel Embiid is a strong candidate for MVP. He is 16th in points scored this season, 4th in points per game, 16th in total rebounds and 10th in rebounds per game. Wendell Carter Jr will have a tough game battling on the boards. That battle is no less tough when Embiid is not present as Dwight Howard is 17th in the NBA for rebounds per game and 13th in total rebounds taken.
Once again the learning curve is a steep one for the young Magic players as they potentially face some of the best in the NBA. Cole Anthony, RJ Hampton and Wendell Carter Jr will certainly relish the opportunity.
THE LOTTERY RACE
As the Magic play in Philadelphia defeat is again not a disaster. Last night’s defeat saw Orlando improve in the potential draft lottery odds..
The table reads:
23rd – Chicago – 30-40
24th – Toronto – 27-43
25th – Cleveland – 22-48
26th – Minnesota – 22-48
27th – Orlando – 21-49
28th – OKC – 21-49
29th – Detroit – 20-50
30th – Houston – 16-54
The odds are explained here on Tankathon.
In the lottery race Orlando are tied in the 3rd/4th position for the lottery first round, meaning a 13.2% chance of the number 1 pick. The pick is also guaranteed to be a top 8 pick. Picks 1 through 4 are assigned by the drawing of ping pong balls, 5 through 14 are by record. Tied teams split their ping pong balls evenly.
The pick owed by Chicago from the Vucevic trade currently sits at 8th. This is a top 4 protected pick meaning Chicago keep the pick if it is drawn at 1 through 4. Odds see it likely to be at 8 or 9 in the draft.
Finishing with the worst record does not guarantee the best pick. The lottery has numerous examples of teams outside the top odds moving up the draft order. Fancy a go on a lottery simulation to see how it works? Then just click on the link and hit the SIM LOTTERY button.