Two weeks ago, Philadelphia put the nail in the coffin of this lost season in a no-show defeat to the Magic that was not as close as the 14-point final deficit indicated. The performance prompted Doug Collins to call out members of his team and the terrible roster construction in a memorable press conference. In turn, writers across the country trotting out the ‘Collins has never coached more than 3 seasons and this is Year 3’ mantra, with some rightfully pointing out that Collins was largely responsible for the team’s construction in the first place so he’s as much to blame as anyone. While Philadelphia has shown better effort since that unraveling loss, they’ve still lost 5 of 6 games since then. Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner have been mired in shooting slumps, both well below 40% in the month of March. With the roster having been gutted this past offseason, Philadelphia will not win many games when it’s two main scorers are not getting the job done; they need Holiday to return to an all-star level and Turner to either play like a league-average player or stop dominating the ball like he believes he’s an all-star.
Like Philadelphia, Orlando has also gone 1-5 since the last meeting with the Sixers. One player that has made the most of an increased opportunity is Tobias Harris, acquired in the J.J. Redick trade. In his 7 games with the Magic, Harris has a 22.19 PER, averaging 16.7 ppg and 6,3 rpg on 56.0% shooting. In his second season, Harris has enjoyed the chance to get regular playing time after being lost on the end of the Milwaukee bench; the Magic may have obtained another keeper in what people thought was just another sell-off trade.
Keys to the Game:
- The Magic are truly a bad team, unsurprisingly ranking toward the bottom of the league in both offensive and defensive ratings. However, after their dismantling of the Sixers in the last meeting, they will come into play with confidence and believe they deserve to win. Get out to a strong first quarter and quickly abuse them of that notion.
- Holiday needs to get back on track, having averaged only 13 ppg in the last 4 games on on 27.1% shooting. He will have a combination of Jameer Nelson, Beno Udrih, and E’Twaun Moore guarding him, none of which are defensive standouts. The Sixers will need a classic 20-point, 10-assist effort from Holiday in this one.
Orlando is one of a very small number of teams Philadelphia could be said to have more talent than at this point of the season. When giving full effort, the Sixers should be able to dispatch of the Magic as they did in their 78-61 victory five weeks ago. Despite recent defeats, the Sixers’ energy and effort has been encouraging in recent losses to Boston and Miami. Philadelphia should come out on top in this contest to break their current 4-game losing streak.