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Sixers-Magic: Game preview, schedule, start time

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A Simmons-less Sixers face the Magic.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to 2017’s first (and hopefully final) “T.J. McConnell is Starting” holiday. We’re here because of a Ben Simmons sore elbow, but let’s talk Teej. We know he brings grit, heart, effort, and an ability to annoy the hell out of anyone he’s assigned to guard. But those are intangibles. I’m gonna get tangible.

In under 24 minutes per game, McConnell’s 5.3 assists is good for 20th in the whole league. His 1.2 steals is top-50 in the league. His assist percentage (30.4) is better than Damian Lillard. His assist ratio - the number of assists a player averages per 100 possessions used - is 5th best in the whole NBA. His 10.9 potential assists is .1 behind Stephen Curry. His assists per 100 possessions are the same as Ben Simmons. But that’s where the similarity ends. Ben Simmons is supernaturally skilled and enormous. T.J. ... isn’t. Ben Simmons has a 7’0” wingspan. T.J’s is 6' 2''. But when given time, we know what T.J. can do.

In 68 games as a starter, McConnell averages 8.3/7.3/4.0 with 1.7 steals vs. a career line of 6.5/5.5/3.1 with 1.4 steals. T.J. doesn’t need to prove himself tonight. Not even close. But this is his first real chance to run the 2017-2018 Sixers, and I’m excited to see what he can do.

7:00 PM / Wells Fargo Center / NBC Sports Philadelphia