Magic at 76ers -- 7 p.m., CSN
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.
Sixers: 22-32 (fourth in Atlantic Division, ninth in Eastern Conference)
Magic: 15-41 (fourth in Southeast Division, 14th in Eastern Conference)
The Sixers and Magic have played once so far this season, back on Feb. 4. The Sixers won that matchup, a low-scoring 78-61 final. The win marked Philadelphia’s third in a row, and improved the team to 4-1 in the first five games of an eight-game homestand.
Spencer Hawes had one of his best games of the season with game-highs in points (21) and rebounds (14), but the Sixers lost Thad Young to a hamstring injury. The Magic were crippled by injuries and had a poor shooting night, going just 27 for 80 (33.8 percent) from the field and 1 for 12 (8.3 percent) from three. Both teams combined for just nine free throws on 13 attempts.
Both teams own the NBA’s longest current losing streaks at five apiece. The Sixers offense has gone missing of late, scoring 93 points or less in each of their last 10 games (4-6). After a 99-93 loss to the Knicks on Sunday, they now sit four games behind the Bucks for the final playoff spot and 10 games under .500. Against New York, Jrue Holiday racked up 30 points, but the bench provided little help with just 21 combined points compared to 44 off the Knicks’ bench.
Orlando is in the midst of possibly its worst stretch in franchise history. Its five game losing streak is part of a dismal 3-28 record in the team’s last 31 games. Ten of the Magic’s last 12 losses have come by 10 or more points. On Saturday against Cleveland, Orlando was outscored 39-22 in the fourth quarter en route to a 118-94 loss. Arron Afflalo led the Magic with 16 points.
Jrue Holiday had been the Sixers’ best player throughout this season. After three straight un-Holiday-like games where he shot a combined 35.4 percent for a total of 42 points, Jrue has bounced back and found his shot. In his past two games, Holiday has a combined 51 points on 57.1 percent shooting.
For Orlando, rookie Maurice Harkless has come on strong of late. He averages just 5.8 points and 4.1 rebounds on the season, but in each of the last four games Harkless has scored in double-figures and grabbed at least five rebounds. His best game was a 20-point, eight-rebound performance against Dallas on Feb. 20.
Spencer Hawes is in the midst of a rough shooting stretch, shooting just 28.0 percent from the field in his last three games. That is unacceptable for a seven-footer, especially considering he has just one double-digit rebounding effort in his last six games.
Former Sixer Nikola Vucevic is averaging a double-double for the season, but has just two in his last five games. In his last two games, Vucevic scored only 10 points combined with zero attempts from the line.
Keep an eye on…
The Sixers' defense. Although the team has been struggling, this is the perfect opportunity to get back on track. The Magic are one of the worst offensive teams in the league, averaging 93.8 points (25th in the NBA). The Sixers are seventh in the league in team defense, surrendering just 95.8 points per game.
Sixers (season averages):
Jrue Holiday (19.2 ppg, 8.7 apg)
Nick Young (11.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
Evan Turner (14.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
Lavoy Allen (6.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
Spencer Hawes (10.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
Magic (season averages):
E’Twaun Moore (8.6 ppg, 2.7 apg)
Arron Afflalo (16.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg)
Maurice Harkless (5.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
Andrew Nicholson (8.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
Nikola Vucevic (12.3 ppg, 11.4 rpg)
Magic at 76ers -- 7 p.m., CSN