The next game on the slate for the 76ers (32-17) – game No. 50 overall – features the same opponent in the Orlando Magic (20-31). The Magic earned a 119-109 road victory over the Sixers on Monday at The Center, with the two teams set to play again in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
The contest marks the fourth and final game of the season series between the clubs, with the Sixers holding a 2-1 edge. They swept a two-game series in Orlando at the end of November.
As of Tuesday evening, both teams listed one player each as questionable on the injury report: Joel Embiid (left foot soreness) for Philadelphia and Wendell Carter Jr. (right foot plantar fascia strain) for Orlando. Carter Jr.'s teammate Chuma Okeke (left knee surgery) remains out.
In Monday’s meeting, the Sixers got off to a fast start and led 30-17 after the first quarter. They upped their lead to as many as 21 points in the second quarter, but the Magic ultimately climbed back behind some physical play and timely shot-making.
Rookie No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero posted 29 points (11-22 fg, 3-5 3fg, 4-5 ft), nine rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one blocked shot in 36 minutes for the visitors. He finished one point shy of the Sixers’ Embiid for the game-high scoring total.
Embiid recorded yet another 20-point half by scoring 21 of his 30 in the first two quarters.
“You have to give him credit. He’s a good player,” 76ers Head Coach Doc Rivers said of Banchero. “He made some adjustments on his own. We didn’t change anything defensively. But we gave up 35 points in the second quarter and we gave up 42 points in the third quarter. A couple of things before the game that we talked about were offensive rebounds and turnovers. [Those plays] give that team energy because they’re long, they’re athletic, it gets them out running, and then once they get their offense going it gives them energy.”
Banchero leads his team – and all NBA rookies – in scoring with 20.7 points per game.
The Sixers committed 19 turnovers compared to Orlando’s 10, and the Magic posted 28 fast-break points as well as 22 second-chance points on 15 offensive rebounds.
Round four of this matchup also concludes a four-game homestand for the Sixers, who will visit San Antonio on Friday, followed by trips to New York and Boston.
Wednesday’s game is another 7 p.m. start in South Philadelphia.
Elsewhere in the organization, the Delaware Blue Coats – the NBA G League affiliate of the 76ers – had their leading scorer Mac McClung selected Tuesday as one of seven G League players for the 2023 NBA Rising Stars Game at NBA All-Star Weekend.
Monday’s Top Performances:
- Embiid notched a 30-point, 11-rebound double-double on 11-for-20 shooting, 1-for-3 from deep, and 7-for-11 from the free-throw line. He added five assists, two steals, and two blocks during his ninth 30-10-5 outing of the season.
- Harden tallied 17 points (5-14 fg, 3-9 3fg, 4-4 ft), eight rebounds, and six assists.
- Like Harden, Harris also scored 17 points (7-15 fg, 1-2 3fg, 2-2 ft), plus six rebounds in 33 minutes of action.
- In 11 minutes as a reserve, Thybulle efficiently delivered 10 points (3-5 fg, 2-3 3fg, 2-2 ft) and two steals, his second such performance (10 points, three steals last Wed. against Brooklyn) in the past three games.
“I don’t think it’s a conscious thing,” Thybulle said of his aggressiveness. “I think it’s just trying to play hard and make a difference when I get out there on the court.”
Quote to Note:
Denver Nuggets Head Coach Michael Malone on James Harden and Joel Embiid, prior to the Sixers’ win over the Nuggets on Saturday:
“If you look at the last 10 years in the league, James kind of revolutionized the game. The scoring, the shot-making, the ability to draw fouls and get to the foul line. So when you couple two guys like that together… Having two great players that can score at will, it seems, and you surround them with some really capable role-type players, you have a chance to do something special.”
“It is a challenge guarding Joel. Not one player can guard him one-on-one. It’s a team effort and you can say the same thing about guarding James Harden.”