Anthony Black

Orlando Magic vs. Philadelphia 76ers: Game Preview

Dan Savage
Director of Digital News

ORLANDO – This portion of the NBA schedule has lined up some of the league’s most high-octane offenses in front of the Orlando Magic. 

And so far, Orlando has been able to knock each of them down. 

First, the Magic went on the road and defeated the Indiana Pacers, who put up the most points per game in the association. Next, Orlando traveled to Washington and edged the Wizards, who play at the league’s highest pace. 

Now, less than 24 hours after that victory, the Magic (18-11) will host the Philadelphia 76ers (20-9), who have the NBA’s second-best offensive rating, on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. 

“It’s another good opportunity – that’s how we have to look at it,” said forward Franz Wagner, who scored a team-high 28 points in Orlando’s win over Washington. “Back-to-backs (aren’t exclusive to us). So, we have to come in locked in, work on our stuff, and try and have a good game.” 

Although they’ll be playing on the second night of a back-to-back against a Philadelphia team that spent Tuesday practicing in Orlando, the Magic will catch a break, as reigning league MVP Joel Embiid will miss the contest due to a right ankle sprain. 

Still, the Sixers have plenty of firepower. Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey, who currently ranks top 20 in the league in points (25.9) and assists (6.7) per contest, will likely carry some of the extra offensive load. 

“They’ve got a great team,” said Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley. “They’ve got guys who will step up in his absence (along with) their ability to guard and defend the right way. Maxey is having a heck of a year. So not only understanding what he’s capable of doing, but also, you have guys in there that are ready to step up and step up big. But it’ll be great to be home and around our fans with that excitement and energy in our building.” 

Offensively, the Magic will hope to continue to benefit from the constantly improving playmaking of Wagner and Paolo Banchero. Orlando’s star-studded duo not only combined for 52 points against the Wizards, but also dished out a total of 17 of the Magic’s 30 assists. 

“I think it’s both me and Paolo’s responsibility,” Wagner said. “The coaches give us a lot of trust. Our teammates trust us a lot, so I think it’s our responsibility when we have the ball so much to just make the right play every time and be aggressive. Try to make plays and make the right decision.” 

IN AND OUT: Gary Harris (right calf; strain), Jonathan Isaac (right hamstring; soreness) and Joe Ingles (left ankle; sprain) are questionable, while Markelle Fultz (left knee tendinitis), Kevon Harris (coach’s decision), and Trevelin Queen (G League – Two-Way) are out for Orlando.  

For Philadelphia, Nicolas Batum (right hamstring; strain), Ricky Council IV (G League – Two-Way), Embiid, Kenneth Lofton Jr. (G League – Two-Way), and Terquavion Smith (G League – Two-Way) are out. 

KEY STATS: Rookie Anthony Black is coming off his best performance as a pro. The 19-year-old point guard fired off a career-high 23 points in the Magic’s triumph in D.C. He knocked down four of his six 3-point attempts, and also came away with four steals. In the process, Black joined Jameer Nelson (4/13/2005) as the only rookies in Magic history to notch four-plus 3-pointers made and four-plus steals in a single game. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I think (I do have untapped offensive potential remaining). But we’re playing good ball right now. I’m really just trying to focus on that, honestly. I know it’s going to come game by game. I’m getting more comfortable. I’m just trying to keep doing the things that are helping us win.” – Black