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Sixers stupefy the Magic, win 118-98.

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Thanks to the Magic, our magic number is 1.

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

The Sixers dominated in Orlando last night, defeating the Magic by a score of 118-98. The Sixers gained the lead with 4:12 left in the first quarter and never relinquished it. By the time the first half was over, the Sixers had built the lead to 21 points. They outscored the Magic by nine in the third bringing the lead to 30. With the starters resting in the fourth quarter, the bench was outscored by 10, still giving the Sixers a commanding win to guarantee them a record of at least .500 on the season.

As the clock was winding down in the first quarter, T.J. McConnell found J.J. Redick outside the arc with a no-look pass but, Redick failed to sink the jumper. A first quarter 11 point lead is large but that shot going in would have cemented the momentum going in the Sixers favor for the entire game. Since it didn’t, the real momentum shift came around 30 seconds into the second quarter. The Sixers ran a high-low screen with Ersan Ilyasova to get Joel Embiid under the basket. Despite being quadruple teamed, Embiid manages to make the basket and whipped out everyone’s favorite finger guns.

Only this time he had a partner in crime.

Not to be outdone in the highlight department, Ben Simmons had three monster dunks on the night. Take a look:

What do these have in common besides showcasing Simmons’s athleticism and basketball skill? The Magic played minimal defense on all of them, failing to get back at all on two, proving Simmons size and speed to be a deterrent to opposing defenses.

Unfortunately, these three dunks were the extent of Simmons’s scoring for the night. Tonight would have been a good night to test out a few longer range jumpers, as missed scoring opportunities wouldn’t be as harmful to the outcome of the game. Ben contributed 10 assists (one-third of the Sixers total), and 11 rebounds. The following play, while not an assist due to the Marco Belinelli miss, shows the benefits of having a 6’10 point guard, and was one of Simmons’s great passes on the night.

In this play, Ilyasova sets the screen on Wes Iwundu, freeing Belinelli. Mario Hezonja doesn’t switch onto Belinelli, instead choosing to focus on Simmons, the ball handler, and attempt to break up the pass. Simmons’s height and vision allows him to see this, avoid Hezonja, and successfully make the pass to Belinelli. The basket did not convert, but Belinelli was fouled on the play and made one of his free throws.

Both the Sixers and the Magic were led in points by a bench player. For the Sixers, Ilyasova led with 18 points in 21 minutes of play. He shot 75% from three and 7-11 from the floor. Surprisingly, Rodney Purvis led all players with 19 points in the game, only his 5th in the NBA after signing a 10-day contract on March 8th. Going into tonight’s game, Purvis was averaging 3.8 points per game.

The Magic were undermanned last night, as a number of their starters were sidelined with injuries. They started Mario Hezonja and Wes Iwundu last night, the latter of which hasn’t started a game since the end of December.

Next, the Sixers take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at home, a game in which a win would clinch a playoff berth for the team.

Other Notes

Robert Covington had a slow start in this game, going 0-4 from three in the first half. He got hot in the second, however, shooting 100% from 3 and finishing the game with 15 points and an effective field goal percentage of 54.2%.We all know Covington has appeared to be a streaky shooter in his career, but he truly seems to have the shooter’s mentality that the most important shot is the next one he takes. As he said after the Nets win earlier this month, “You ain’t gonna know the outcome of a shot if you don’t take it.”

Embiid had a fun three-pointer in the 2nd quarter, in which he ran back on defense as soon as he released the ball. When asked about it after the game, he said “As soon as I shot it I knew it was going in and I felt like Steph Curry… I, you know, went back on D before it went in. It was a good sequence, you know, I’ve always wanted to do that and I had the opportunity to do that and it worked out pretty well.”

Later Embiid was asked about his mindset going into the game and said, “We wanted to come out and send a message and let everyone know we were going for the homecourt….after this game I kinda have a new goal. I want to get 50 wins. If we can do that that would be great so we gotta keep pushing on that.”

The Sixers take pride in their assists, and assist they did tonight. They finished with 30 assists on 42 made field goals.

After being made available early this afternoon, Furkan Korkmaz played the entire fourth quarter for the Sixers. Korkmaz hadn’t played since December 10th due to a Lisfranc injury to his left foot. In 12 minutes, Korkmaz scored 3 points and assisted on an Ilyasova bucket.

Dario Saric and Redick both had pretty solid games, contributing 10 and 12 points, respectively. Redick only shot 20% from beyond the arc but was 5/5 from the foul line. Saric was second only to Simmons in regards to rebounds, pulling down 10 of them.

Justin Anderson saw meaningful minutes again, proving he has a place in Brett Brown’s playoff rotations. In 16 minutes of play, he put up a stat line of 5-3-2. While his stats may not be jumping off the page, he is a physical presence on the court and is not afraid to use his size and physicality on defense.

In the first half, the Magic had 0 points in transition in comparison to the Sixers 16 and finished the game with only 10. On the season, the Magic average 19 points in transition per game, ahead of the Sixers 18.6.

Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic were minimized on office, only scoring 17 points between the two of them. Going into tonight’s game, they were averaging a combined 35.3 points per game