Wizards

Magic-76ers Preview

Magic-76ers Preview

Though Philadelphia has struggled with Orlando in recent years, a visit from the reeling Magic might provide the 76ers with a good chance to match their longest winning streak of the season.

Hoping to further take advantage of a favorable stretch on their longest homestand of the season, the 76ers look for a third straight victory while trying to send the Magic to their second 10-game skid in less than two months Monday night.

With consecutive victories over Washington and Sacramento, Philadelphia (20-26) has a chance to win three straight for the first time since Nov. 25-30. Though their latest victories came against two of the NBA's worst teams, the 76ers continue to build confidence while starting 3-1 on an eight-game homestand.

"I think we are in a good place right now and have some momentum," center Spencer Hawes said. "Guys are playing well with one another and we have to keep translating that into wins."

Thaddeus Young had 23 points with 15 rebounds, Jrue Holiday scored 21 while overcoming eight turnovers and Nick Young added 20 in Friday's 89-80 win over the Kings. The 76ers held Sacramento to 38.0 percent shooting, including 1 of 10 from 3-point range, but almost a blew a 19-point lead.

Philadelphia gave up a 17-point cushion in last Monday's 103-100 loss to Memphis.

"We're just coming out with all kinds of energy,'' said Nick Young, who has averaged 18.2 points in five games - the last four as a starter. "When we get up, we've got to keep the lead.''

Strong defensive play has keyed the 76ers' success in the last four games. Aside from the Memphis loss, Philadelphia held New York, Washington and Sacramento to an average of 81.3 points on 37.4 percent shooting.

Though Orlando has won three straight versus Philadelphia and averaged 103.0 points while shooting 48.2 percent to win 14 of the last 16 meetings, the current Magic are hardly the caliber of those past clubs that won 25 of 32 in the series.

Orlando (14-33) dropped 10 in a row from Dec. 21-Jan. 9, then won two of three before its current slide reached nine games with a 107-98 loss at Milwaukee on Saturday. The Magic have averaged 89.0 points while losing the first four of a five-game trip.

While his team tries to avoid losing seven straight road games for the first time since a 16-game skid from Jan. 27-March 21, 2006, coach Jacque Vaughn remains positive. With injured starters Glen Davis (foot), Arron Afflalo (calf) and Jameer Nelson (forearm) day to day, the Magic led by one in the third quarter before allowing a 19-6 run.

"This group continues to show themselves," Vaughn said. "The competitive nature from every guy that stepped on the floor was great to see.''

After posting 20 points and 12 rebounds at Milwaukee, Nikola Vucevic has averaged 15.8 with 12.8 boards in the last six games. Rookie Maurice Harkless recorded season highs with 19 points and 14 rebounds in his third straight start.

J.J Redick has shot 33.3 percent or worse in three of four games but 51.7 percent while totaling 37 points in the last two against the 76ers.

Holiday has averaged 23.8 points and shot 53.0 percent in the last four contests overall but has averaged 9.8 on 39.1 percent shooting in six home games versus Orlando.

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Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

As a member of the Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal has had many battles with LeBron James over the years, first with the Miami Heat and now with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Over the weekend, Beal got to experience having James as a teammate for the first time at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

It was an eye-opening endeavor. Beal got to see up close and personal James' abilities and his routine to maximize them. In a group of the best players on the planet, James stood out.

"It was surreal at first, just being around all the guys," Beal said. "Even just being on his team for two days, that was an unbelievable experience."

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Beal, 24, is six seasons in to his NBA career and from experience has learned how to train for the rigors of an 82-game regular season. What James does at 33 years old to stay in peak form, however, is next level.

"To see his preparation, his focus and his mentality and what he does to take care of his body before and after games," Beal said. "That's the true testament to a Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever play the game."

James actually assisted Beal's first points in the All-Star Game, a two-handed dunk in the first quarter. James attacked the rim on a fastbreak to draw attention, then found Beal with a dump-off pass for an easy bucket.

RELATED: WIZARDS HAVE BIG QUESTIONS TO ANSWER IN SECOND HALF

It was an example of James' tricks of the trade. He is not just the most athletic player on the court, he is also the smartest when it comes to the game of basketball.

"His approach and his leadership and everything, it's top notch. It's crazy because you always play against him and to play with him, you get experience the other side of it," Beal said.

Beal, however, did note that much of what he gleaned from James was by watching him. At the end of the day, they are competitors and James isn't going to give away all of his secrets.

"He's not disclosing that information," Beal joked.

The Wizards happen to play James and the Cavs in their first game back from the All-Star break on Thursday night. Once again, Beal will be on the other side. 

RELATED: 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT HAS LOADED CLASS

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Walt Williams talks Wizards, his NBA career and life after basketball

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NBC Sports Washington

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Walt Williams talks Wizards, his NBA career and life after basketball

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes was joined by former NBA player Walt Williams for a wide-ranging discussion. Williams talked about the Wizards, his show on NBC Sports Washington and his playing career.

Williams also projected the NBA prospects of Maryland Terrapins stars Bruno Fernando and Kevin Huerter.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!