Flash back to New Year's Eve: The Magic are 19-13 and being touted as an example of a model re-build. The Sixers, meanwhile, had won just a total of three games and two of those had occurred after Christmas. Flash forward to the present, and the Sixers have more January victories (two) than the Magic (one). While the Magic still maintain a 15 more wins over the Sixers, January has seen quite a reversal of fortunes. The Sixers have found themselves beating a Trail Blazers team currently just on the outside of playoff contention and playing competitive games against the Bulls, Cavs, and Raptors, currently the top three teams in the Eastern Conference.
Making things worse for the Magic has been the considerable drop off in a lot of their play. Tobias Harris and famous former Sixer Nikola Vucevic have seen their play fall off a cliff since the turn of the new year. Their offensive efficiency stats have dropped, and the Magic as a result have lost seven of their last eight games and some of them have been of the runaway variety. The Magic have lost to the Wizards by 12, the Cavs by 25, the Pistons by 26, and the Hawks by 17. Though they did go to overtime with the Raptors and ultimately only lost that game by 3, the Magic's lone win in January has come against the Nets, a team so bad they may actually be worse than the Sixers and looking long-term are in a way worse position.
For the Sixers, they are back to being their previous entertaining not-always losing Sixers selves. Robert Covington has improved his play from where he was at the start of the season, Ish Smith is seeing a lot of minutes, and Nerlens Noel finally has a point guard he can work well with this season. It would be fantastic if Isaiah Canaan stopped seeing so many minutes, though, at this point him just playing 24 minutes in a 58-minute game as he did on Monday is probably something like a best-case scenario.
Given that Jahlil Okafor sat for all the 4th quarter and both overtimes against the Knicks on Monday, we may expect to see more of him tonight especially if Noel appears tired after his team-high 47 minutes on Monday. Nik Stauskas should also see some minutes tonight as well after sitting out the last couple games with a contused left shoulder.
For all things Magic, check out Orlando Pinstriped Post, SB Nation's Orlando Magic blog and come back here at 6:30 tonight for our game thread!