Update: Markelle Fultz was ruled out prior to tip-off.
While the Sixers have been dealing with a mess of injuries, the Magic haven’t had much better luck in that department.
But Orlando could be getting a key reinforcement back as former Sixer Markelle Fultz could make his season debut Sunday night. The 2017 No. 1 overall pick is listed as questionable while dealing with a left toe fracture. He was able to warm up ahead of the Sixers’ win Friday night.
Markelle Fultz, who practiced Wednesday, getting up shots pregame.— Khobi Price (@khobi_price) November 25, 2022
Fultz remains out after fracturing a bone in his left big toe but is making progress in his rehab. Pregame shooting and participating in practice are encouraging steps. pic.twitter.com/kQxhVIN9ZI
There’s no need to rehash all of Fultz’s history in Philly, but it’s kind of cool that it feels like most Sixers fans are pulling for the 24-year-old guard. Unfortunately, Fultz’s career continues to be marred by injuries. He’s played in just 26 games the last two seasons combined. If he plays, he might give a Magic team that is desperate for solid guard play a boost.
The team should get veteran Terrence Ross (illness) back, but second-year guard Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) is now questionable. In addition to Suggs and Fultz, the following Orlando players are listed as questionable: Wendell Carter Jr. (right plantar fascia strain), Kevon Harris (illness), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness). Cole Anthony (right internal oblique tear) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery) remain out.
As for the Sixers, their injury report looks the same as Friday’s. Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, and Jaden Springer will all be out of the lineup. The one positive is that P.J. Tucker is not on the injury report. Doc Rivers told reporters postgame Friday that Tucker could not finish the contest because of an ankle issue.
So, it’s likely to be another war of attrition.
The Sixers won Friday night’s matchup largely on the shoulders of a terrific Shake Milton performance. The fifth-year guard notched his first career double-double and narrowly missed a triple-double with 24 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. He also made a season-high four threes on seven attempts. In fact the four made triples were the most for Milton since he hit that many against Charlotte nearly a year ago (Dec. 6, 2021). Over his last five games, Milton has hit 47.8 percent (11 of 23) of his shots from deep. In that span, Milton is averaging 20.8 points, 6.4 assists and 6.2 assists on 66.7 true shooting.
Sufficed to say, Milton will have a role even when the Sixers are healthy again.
Tobias Harris has also been very good in making up for the Sixers’ losing their top three scorers. Harris is averaging 22 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists over the last three games. All that while he’s battled hip and ankle issues.
The Magic play some monstrous lineups with the likes of Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Bol Bol, and Mo Bamba out there. They could be getting the 6-foot-10 Carter Jr. back in the lineup as well. As we saw in the second half Friday, the key to stopping Orlando is forcing the Magic into jump shots and allowing them to beat themselves with turnovers. Credit also goes to both Sixers’ bigs, Montrezl Harrell and Paul Reed, for adjusting to Orlando’s length as the game went on.
The Sixers will look to get two games over the .500 mark for the first time the season — no small feat when you consider what they’ve endured injury-wise. It’s not easy to beat teams two games in a row, especially on their home floor.
But the Sixers found a winning formula just two days ago. We’ll see if they can do it again.
When: 6 p.m. EST
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic