In the first home game after the All-Star break, the Sixers will take on the Orlando Magic. The Sixers have won 11 straight in Philadelphia, and 6 straight overall. They hope to keep that streak alive when they tip off at 5 pm.
The Orlando Magic have yet to play against Ben Simmons, as he was sidelined with elbow swelling in the teams’ last meeting. In an early season game, the Sixers routed a struggling Magic team 130-111 on the backs of T.J. McConnell and J.J. Redick. That night, the Magic’s leading scorer was Elfrid Payton, now a Phoenix Sun.
After the All-Star break, Aaron Gordon and former Sixer Nikola Vucevic have rejoined the Magic’s starting lineup after being sidelined by injury. In their first game back, the two combined for 28 points in a 120-113 loss to the New York Knicks, the team’s fourth loss in a row.
In his third season in the NBA, Mario Hezonja has begun to be consistently productive off the bench for the Magic. He has scored in double digits in 9 of the last 10 games. This increased playing time is due to the injuries to both Gordon and Jonathan Isaac but he has made the most of the opportunity.
In a feeling that fans haven’t had often in recent years, this feels like a game that the Sixers should, and will, win. The Sixers are having indisputable success, with a record that is six games above .500. This success has led to an expectation of winning, and if they don’t win tonight, it will be a disappointment. Even if Simmons shoots his first 3-pointer or Joel Embiid explodes for 50 points, the win is what is important. The days of moral victories are slightly in the rearview at this point, and they should stay there.
Game Time: 5:00 pm
TV: NBCSports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic