Updated: 1:36 p.m.
The 7-3 Sixers will play against their No. 1 pick in the NBA draft two years ago Wednesday night in Orlando.
Here are the essentials for tonight’s game against the 3-7 Magic and Markelle Fultz:
When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Amway Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app
And here are three storylines to watch:
A long and winding road
It’s been less than a year since Fultz last suited up for the Sixers. Since a scoreless effort on Nov. 19 in the Sixers’ win over the Suns, he experienced a series of agent-recommended medical consultations, a diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome, a trade minutes before the deadline in February and plenty of time watching on the bench as the Magic made a run to the playoffs. Of course, Fultz went through a lot prior to the last year, too, including a diagnosis in November 2017 of scapular muscle imbalance and the persistent inability, for whatever reason, to shoot the way he had at the University of Washington.
Now, he’s started the last five games for the Magic. Fultz is averaging 9.7 points, 3.1 assists and 2.0 rebounds on the season. He’s already taken 22 three-point shots, seven more than he attempted in his 33 games with the Sixers, though he’s made just four of them.
Load management is in the spotlight
Joel Embiid is out tonight in the second game of a back-to-back. He'll be listed as such with "injury maintenace/left knee soreness," but this is part of the plan to keep Embiid healthy, per a team source. As we saw with the Kawhi Leonard situation, league rules mandate that there be such a designation for a player sitting out.
Last night, it sounded like his preference was to play vs. Orlando.
“… At the beginning of the season, the goal was to limit my back-to-backs,” he said. “Obviously, the two-game suspension doesn't help. I feel like before that I was in a good rhythm and I kind of lost it. The last couple games I have not been good, especially when it comes to my efficiency and taking care of the ball. I feel like I need to get in a rhythm. So, we’re going to to figure it out.”
Al Horford will return after a load management night. Trey Burke will be listed as questionable and go through pregame warmups. He missed Tuesday’s game with left calf tightness.
Don’t expect a shootout
The Magic are shooting a league-worst 28.2 percent from three-point range. At 33.4 percent, the Sixers are tied for 21st.
This certainly looks like it might be a low-scoring game. All of the teams currently in the top 10 in defensive rating have a winning record besides the Magic, who are No. 3. They had the second-best defensive rating last season after the trade deadline, too, so their defense doesn’t seem to be a fluke. Jonathan Isaac has 30 blocks, the most in the league.
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