Thursday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets went as abysmally as Sixers fans could have dreamed, but few spots could be better for a bounce-back performance than facing Orlando tonight in the Sunshine State. The Magic sit at 18-50 on the season, last place in the Eastern Conference, although they have won two straight, including a 118-110 win over Minnesota Friday night.
As far as odds for tonight’s game, Philadelphia is currently listed as 13-point favorites. Hard to argue, after the Sixers won all three previous meetings between these two clubs, most recently a 123-110 win in Philadelphia in mid-January. In that contest, Magic center Mo Bamba went 7-of-8 from three for 32 points, but he was still no match for Joel Embiid, who tied a career-high with 50 points. Bamba is also coming off 27 points Friday night against the Wolves; can he back it up with another strong outing tonight? My guess is Embiid will make sure to top him again regardless.
A fun subplot for Sixers fans is Orlando’s Markelle Fultz taking the court for his sixth game of the season in his return from a torn ACL. Fultz is on a minutes limit, averaging 10.4 points per game on just 17 minutes per game. As we know, things didn’t work out for Markelle in Philadelphia, but his shot looks considerably less glitchy these days. Glad he looks like he’s having fun playing basketball again.
Markelle Fultz’ first 3-pointer of 2022. pic.twitter.com/IUP7ZW7RpZ— EVRYDAY Carter (@EVRYDAYCarter) March 12, 2022
Speaking of guards looking better, Sixers fans would enjoy James Harden erasing the memory of Thursday night, in what was easily his worst outing in a Sixers uniform. The Beard was ragged, shooting 3-of-17 from the field, and often seemingly to be flailing and foul-hunting at the expense of making a normal basketball play. Harden looked terrific in his first five games with the Sixers, so hopefully that was just a one-game blip.
Finally, I mentioned Embiid’s five-dimer earlier this year against the Magic, and we could be set up for an epic end to the scoring title. Entering play Saturday night, Embiid, LeBron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo were all tied at 29.7 point per game. Facing a rebuilding Magic club he already crushed this season, Joel could look to pad the stats this evening. With a heated scoring race and a neck-and-neck MVP contest for Embiid, these last few weeks of the regular season should be exciting. Of course, he’s been insistent about having team-related goals as the main objectives.
Tune in tonight to see what magic Embiid has in store, and whether Harden’s latest trip to the club revitalized him.
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