NYE Preview: Sixers vs Magic
The Sixers will close out 2020 tonight at 6:30 PM vs the Orlando Magic. In Tuesday’s win vs the Raptors, the Sixers shot 32 for 84 including 8 for 31 from beyond the arc. Defensively, they struggled along the perimeter and allowed the Raptors to take advantage, making 17 of 45 three point attempts. Consistent basketball will be the key as they head to Orlando to take on the undefeated (4-0) Magic.
Here’s what I’m keeping an eye on in tonight’s game.
Bounce-Back Bench Performance
With Furkan Korkmaz sidelined with a left abductor strain, the Sixers’ bench struggled vs the Raptors on Tuesday night. The Sixers’ reserves were a miserable 3-18 shooting and only contributed a total of 10 points against the Raptors.
This season, the bench clearly relies on Shake Milton to generate offense, even more so without Furkan Korkmaz as an option. Mike Scott and Rookie Tyrese Maxey have been inconsistent and Matisse Thybulle is lost offensively. If Shake has an off-night, goodbye bench. I do expect Milton to get back to his reliable ways and the bench to find a way to contribute like they did during the home opener vs the Wizards.
A Consistent Tobias Harris
Tobias Harris was dominant in the Sixers win vs the Raptors. Harris let the three point shot fly and was aggressive when attacking the basket against the Raptors. He finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. Harris turned it on in the second half vs the Raptors, but as we all know, consistency is the major key for Harris moving forward. It’s hard to tell whether we will get the 4-13 shooting performance or the quick decision maker that can influence a game on both ends of the court.
Ben Simmons Offense and Dominant Defense
Simmons struggled in the half court offense against the Raptors. He did however, get to the foul line eight times. On Tuesday night, Simmons was hit on countless occasions as he drove to the net but the refs weren’t too quick to call anything.
We all know that an aggressive Ben Simmons is the best Ben Simmons. He needs to bring the energy offensively every time he steps foot on the court. Given the bench struggles, I would assume that Doc Rivers tries to split Simmons and Embiid’s rest time like he did against the Raptors so at least one of them are on the court at all times.
Defensively, Simmons has been dominant. He was able to lockdown Pascal Siakam completely in the second half on Tuesday night. Simmons held Siakam to two points on 1 for 4 shooting in seven forth quarter minutes. Regardless of what Simmons does offensively, there are not many players in the NBA that can provide what he can defensively.
Markelle Fultz is having the best start of his career, averaging 18.3 points, 5.8 assists, and 1.0 steal through the first four games of the season. Another former Sixer, Nik Vucevic leads the charge for the Magic and is averaging 20 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.
In recent years, the Sixers have not played well against the Magic. Orlando has won 17 of the last 26 regular season games against the Sixers. To make it worse, the Magic have won 23 of 30 vs the Sixers in Orlando.
The Sixers fast-paced offense and another MVP-level performance from Joel Embiid will serve the Orlando Magic their first loss of the season.
Hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year!
Mandatory Credit: Pool | Getty Images