Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers: Game Preview

Wendell Carter Jr.
by Dan Savage

PHILADELPHIA – The Orlando Magic have had to battle through a shorthanded start to their season.

Along with missing franchise cornerstones Markelle Fultz (knee) and Jonathan Isaac (knee), the team has been without Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle) and E’Twaun Moore (left knee) for the entire start to their 2021-22 campaign. Thus, already short on depth, Orlando has struggled to compensate with any additional losses such as the one to the team's leading scorer, Cole Anthony, who’s missed the last five games with a sprained right ankle.

They were even further tested on Saturday night as Mo Bamba (back) was unable to go, Terrence Ross (back) only played the first half, Robin Lopez fouled out, and Wendell Carter Jr. was ejected in the fourth quarter after arguing a non-call.

They’ll get no sympathy on Monday from a Philadelphia 76ers team that’s had to battle through its own share of adversity.

The Magic (4-17) will look to snap a six-game losing streak when they close out their road trip against the Sixers (10-10) at 7 p.m. ET.

Philadelphia’s record is not indicative of the talent that will take the floor on Monday night. The Sixers recently welcomed back Joel Embiid, who missed nine straight games due to health and safety protocols. Philadelphia struggled during that span, losing seven of those nine without their All-Star center. They’ve also been without Tobias Harris for extended stretches, but he, like Embiid, was welcomed back into the lineup against Minnesota on Saturday.

“The biggest thing is obviously Joel Embiid,” said Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley. “His physicality, his ability to create double teams, (and) get to the free throw line. So, we have to do a good job of defending him without fouling. They have their guards that attack the paint as well and then offensive rebounds. So, we have to make sure we do a good job on Embiid, control their guards from getting into the paint, and then their knock down shooters, we have to make sure we close to their body and make them have to put the ball on the floor to get inside the two-point range.”

The Magic will also look to continue to limit their live ball turnovers. Against Cleveland on Saturday, Orlando was able to cut down on its giveaways by playing more frequently through the post and improving its on-court positioning. It will once again be critical not to give any extra possessions to a Sixers team that hold the league’s fifth-best offensive rating.

“Take care of the basketball,” said R.J. Hampton of the keys against Philadelphia. “I think we did a better job against Cleveland in that department. Also, just making our free throws, me especially. Guys that get on the line and capitalizing (and) having a set defense.”

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Me and Tyrese have been friends for a really long time. Probably since the second or third grade. Played against each other all growing up. It’s definitely going to be fun matching up with him again. We played back in high school. I think he won the first one and I won the second one. So, we’ll see what happens tonight.” – Hampton on going against Tyrese Maxey, who also grew up playing basketball in Texas

IN AND OUT: Bamba (low back maintenance) and Ross (low back maintenance) both went through shootaround today but remain game-time decisions. Anthony (sprained right ankle), Carter-Williams (left ankle), Fultz (left knee), Isaac (left knee), and Moore (left knee sprain) all remain out for Orlando.

For Philadelphia, Shake Milton (groin soreness) is questionable, while Aaron Henry (G League – Two-Way), Grant Riller (G League – Two-Way), Ben Simmons (personal reasons), and Jaden Springer (G League – On Assignment) are out.

RIVALS REPORT: In this edition of our Rivals Report series, we’re joined by Matt Murphy, who covers the team for Sixers.com. He was kind enough to answer three questions about Philadelphia prior to its matchup with Orlando.

Savage: “The Sixers got a big boost getting Joel Embiid back on Saturday. What did he look like in his return after missing nine games due to health and safety protocols?”

Murphy: “Maybe the most surprising thing after missing the nine games was the fact that he played forty-five minutes. The Sixers also got Tobias Harris back, after he missed two games with a hip injury. In the game against Minnesota that went two overtimes, both of them played forty-five minutes. Enough can’t be said about what a lift it was for the Sixers to have Embiid back. They came up short in the second overtime, but his final statline was forty-two points, while making sixteen free throws. He got to the line twenty-one times. So, the fact that he played forty-five minutes and was able to deliver down the stretch was super impressive. It just makes this team go. It’s a team that has a lot of shooting and when those shooters can be freed up a little bit more because of Embiid and the double teams, it makes this team a lot better.”

Savage: “Tyrese Maxey has had a breakout sophomore campaign. What’s stood out to you about him and his continued growth?”

Murphy: “There’s been a lot to like about the way that Tyrese Maxey has started his second season with the 76ers. This seems weird to say because he’s had such a strong start to the season and has been so pivotal to Philadelphia team in the starting lineup, but maybe even look for a bounce back effort from him (against Orlando). Because he had a turnover at the end of the Minnesota game (on Saturday) that resulted in a Taurean Prince game-winning basket, and he had a few (other) turnovers in that game. One of the most impressive things about his season so far is how infrequently he’s turned the ball over. There was a stretch during the Sixers six-game road trip before the Minnesota game where he went three games in a row, playing heavy minutes, without turning it over a single time. So, he’s the type of player that is going to take that to heart. He’s a very hard worker and I get the sense that he’s going to want to avenge that previous game and that previous play with bounce-back effort. He did have nine assists against the Timberwolves, and he seemingly scores in double figures every game. Getting to the line is another area and making the most of them has been impressive for Maxey in his second year. He also on that road trip had a stretch where he was getting to the line nearly double-digit times per game and making all of them.”

Savage: “For Magic fans who perhaps don’t watch the Sixers as closely, what’s one other thing that’s stood out to you about them this season?”

Murphy: “The team chemistry is really good and that extends to even to new players like George Niang. It’s his first year in Philadelphia, but he’s fit right in. Andre Drummond has fit right in from an on-court and off-court standpoint. So, what I would say to that is, it’s a deep team. Because these are guys who, when the Sixers are healthy, are not in the starting lineup. It’s a very deep Sixers team. A lot of shooting. Niang helps that cause as well. It’s a deep Sixers team this year and they have face some adversity already. The chemistry has shown through during these times. They like playing with each other and when they’re at full strength, they can go really deep into the bench and a lot of the guys on the bench can really shoot the basketball.”


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