ORLANDO - Last month’s game between the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers was one of the NBA’s most thrilling contests so far this season. Although the Magic took a lead late after trailing by 11 with under five minutes left, the Sixers claimed the victory on their home court behind clutch 3-point shooting from J.J. Redick.
The second matchup between these two clubs – scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. at Amway Center – has a chance to be just as exhilarating.
Aside from the showdown in the middle between Joel Embiid and Nikola Vucevic, who notched his second career triple-double in that first meeting in Philly, the Sixers’ acquisition of perennial All-Star Jimmy Butler will make this highly anticipated rematch even more intriguing.
Although the 76ers already ranked among the league’s elite in multiple statistical categories before Monday’s blockbuster trade, adding Butler to the mix is expected to make Philadelphia even more formidable.
The Magic hope his debut with his new team is a forgettable one, however. For that to happen, it will be critical for Steve Clifford’s squad to play with the same defensive intensity and togetherness that we’ve seen in recent games.
Especially with how well Wes Iwundu has been on that side of the ball since jumping into the starting lineup, don’t be surprised if the 23-year-old is tasked with guarding Butler to begin the night.
The key when defending the 6-foot-8, 236-pounder is to be physical with him. Although the Sixers have a plethora of weapons to work with, getting the ball out of Butler’s hands is usually a positive for the opponent. The more aggressive Butler is, the more likely it is for him to heat up or work his way to the free throw line.
Although he had two strong individual performances against the Magic last season while a member of the Timberwolves, the eight-year NBA veteran was held in check when Orlando prevented him from finding his sweet spots.
Check out these two terrific defensive plays by the Magic against Butler from last year:
Bench production will likely be another factor in determining the outcome of Wednesday’s contest, especially as it relates to each team’s sharpshooters, Redick and Terrence Ross. Redick, who played 6 ½ seasons in Orlando, drilled eight threes and finished with 31 points in that last meeting, while Ross scored 15 and buried an unforgettable 3-pointer from half court with the shot clock about to expire in the waning moments.