It’s a matchup of a team in the Eastern Conference playoff picture and one nowhere near it down in the Sunshine State. The Philadelphia 76ers are on the road as they travel to face the Orlando Magic Thursday night. Philadelphia was in action at home Wednesday night as they hosted the lowly Grizzlies. Orlando lost their second straight game as they were defeated 93-86 at home by the Raptors Tuesday night. The Magic has a commanding 75-35 lead in the all-time regular season series between the teams but the 76ers took both meetings this season, including a 116-105 home win in the last matchup on February 24.
Philadelphia 76ers Try to Keep Good Times Rolling
Philadelphia was in action at home on Wednesday night as they faced a dismal Memphis team that was in a death spiral. The 76ers now face another team in the lottery in Orlando as they try to finish the season strong. Philadelphia was 7-3 in their last 10 games entering Wednesday and had won three straight games. The 76ers are sixth in the Eastern Conference, 13 games behind the Raptors for the lead in the conference and the Atlantic Division. Philadelphia is eight games ahead of the ninth-place Pistons and within one game of the fourth-place Pacers. The 76ers are 17-19 on the road and 25-18 against the Eastern Conference this season.
The 76ers are above average on the offensive end of the floor. The team is 10th in the league in scoring offense with 108.1 points per game. Philadelphia is 1st in rebounding with 46.8 boards a night and 3rd with 26 assists per contest. The 76ers are average on the defensive end, ranking 13th by allowing 105.6 points a game. Jerryd Bayless is putting up 7.9 points per game while Ben Simmons averages 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists plus 1.72 steals per contest. Robert Covington adds 12.6 points per night, Joel Embiid contributes a team leading 23.6 points plus 11.2 rebounds and 1.81 blocks per contest while JJ Redick chips in 16.7 points a game. Redick missed seven games with a leg injury before returning January 31 against the Nets. T.J. McConnell, Dario Saric (14.9 points, 6.9 rebounds), Marco Belinelli (11.3 points), Ersan Ilyasova (10.4 points, 5.3 boards), Amir Johnson and #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz are going to be looked at to contribute. Fultz is continuing to rehab his shoulder: recent reports have him shooting from outside the arc. A potential return date has yet to be determined: he’s played just four games this season and has been out since October 23 with a shoulder issue. The 76ers are 11th in the league shooting the ball as they hit 46.7 percent from the floor. Philadelphia is 12th in threes per game with 10.8 triples a night and tied for 10th in three point shooting as they hit 36.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Orlando Magic Looks to Stop Slump
Orlando had a solid defensive showing against the conference-leading Raptors but couldn’t get their offense going. As a result, the Magic lost their second straight and their seventh in the last eight games. Orlando was down one at the half but led by eight after three quarters before the wheels fell off: they were outscored 25-10 in the fourth quarter to end up on the wrong end of the scoreboard. The Magic shot 41.1 percent from the field and hit nine of 25 three point attempts in the contest while sinking three of their five free throw attempts. Shelvin Mack led Orlando with 17 points in the loss.
The Magic has been average this season putting the ball in the basket: they are 18th in the league with 104.4 points per game. Orlando stands 26th on the glass with 41.1 boards per contest and is 11th with 23.3 assists a night. The Magic is 24th in scoring defense as they allow 109.1 points a game. Nikola Vucevic is third on Orlando with 17.1 points plus nine rebounds per game: he returned February 22 after missing 22 games with a broken hand. Evan Fournier contributes 17.8 points a night, Aaron Gordon leads the team with 18.2 points and 8.4 boards a game while Johnathon Simmons contributes 13.9 points a night. Gordon missed nine games with a hip flexor and returned to action against the Knicks February 22: he also missed five games with a concussion before returning against Toronto March 20. D.J. Augustin (10 points, 3.8 assists), Terrence Ross, Mario Hezonja, Arron Afflalo, Shelvin Mack, Marreese Speights and Jonathan Isaac are all components of Frank Vogel’s rotation. Ross is out indefinitely with a sprained MCL and a non-displaced fracture in his right leg. The Magic is 15th in the league in field goal percentage as they shoot 45.8 percent as a team. Orlando is tied for 16th with 10.5 made threes per game while the team is 19th in three point percentage as they shoot 35.9 percent from downtown.
- 76ers are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. NBA Southeast
- Magic are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. NBA Atlantic
Philadelphia has plenty to play for down the stretch as they look to improve their seeding in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Orlando on the other hand, has nothing to play for at this point in another disappointing campaign. The Magic started the season hot, going 6-2, and then imploded. Perhaps another high pick can help infuse the roster with talent to bring the team back to being a contender. As for the short term, the 76ers are the better team and they should be able to take care of business with a win here.
Pick: Philadelphia 76ers -7
Orlando is still dealing with injuries, as they have seemingly all season long. Gordon just returned after missing five games with a concussion. He also missed time right before the All-Star break while Vucevic missed a huge chunk of time with a broken hand. Fournier sprained his knee in early March and according to Vogel, he’s “nowhere close” to playing: for all we know, he could be done for the year. Philadelphia is playing well with three straight wins and will look to build on that momentum as they attempt to improve their seeding in the Eastern Conference. Can the 76ers leapfrog a couple teams and end up with home-court advantage in the opening round?
The over is 4-0 in the 76ers’ last 4 vs. a team with a losing straight up record, 4-1 in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400 and 20-8 in their last 28 road games vs. a team with a losing home record. Orlando has seen the over go 4-1 in their last 5 vs. a team with a winning straight up record. The teams have gone over the total in each of their last four meetings overall and in four of their last five here in Orlando. Look for that to be the case again here as the Magic’s sudden attention to defense wanes.