The Sixers (0-2) are still searching for their first win of the season after getting blown out by the Hawks over the weekend.
They will get another shot at victory No. 1 when they host the fellow winless Orlando Magic (0-3) on Tuesday night (7 p.m./CSN).
Let's take a closer look at the matchup:
1. One big in, one big out
The Sixers' first back-to-back set of the season poses challenges for a team dealing with so many injuries and minutes restrictions. That's especially the case for the squad's big men.
With two games in as many nights on tap, the Sixers have opted to split up their centers (see story). Joel Embiid will play on Tuesday vs. the Magic and Jahlil Okafor will rest. The two will swap roles on Wednesday for the Sixers' first road game of the season in Charlotte.
“In regards to back-to-backs, we always felt that was going to be a challenge,” Brett Brown said. “This particular one, given Jahlil’s sort of infant stages into becoming healthier, we’re going to not use up his minutes tomorrow night and then spend our money more in Charlotte.”
Before they get on the floor with the Hornets, the Sixers better hope Embiid's presence is enough against the new-look Magic. Embiid, who is averaging 17.0 points and 4.5 rebounds through two games, will have his hands full inside with the combination of Nik Vucevic, Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo.
2. Saric searching for shot
Dario Saric’s shooting has been bad to start his NBA career. Really bad.
The Croatian has made just four of his 21 attempts through two games (19.0 percent). That includes Saric shooting 1 for 7 (14.3 percent) from three-point range.
Saric admitted his troubles haven’t been because of game speed or physicality. It’s actually the location of his touches on the court throwing off his game.
“It’s hard because here the pick-and-roll game is a little bit down the three-point line,” Saric explained after Monday’s practice (see story). “In Europe, when you play pick-and-roll games and you make a screen, you are already on the three-point line. … I played 10 years like that. I’m already on three-point, I will shoot the ball. But here when you make a screen, you turn around, you are on long two. That I can say is the bad shot in the NBA game.”
Perhaps Saric, who was drafted 12th overall by Orlando in 2014 before being dealt to the Sixers, can find his touch from long range against a Magic team that allowed 11 three-pointers in a 105-99 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.
3. On point
Speaking of players involved in that 2014 draft-night trade between the Sixers and Magic, Elfrid Payton was on the other end. The point guard was shipped to Orlando as part of the deal after being selected 10th overall by the Sixers that year.
Payton has had an up-and-down career to this point. He showed some flashes under Scott Skiles. However, Payton always seemed like the former head coach’s fiery personality rubbed him the wrong way and possibly hindered his consistency.
That hasn’t been the case in the small sample size so far with new head man Frank Vogel. Payton is averaging 13.7 points, 5.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds a game in three contests in 2016-17.
Payton will have to deal with the veteran Sergio Rodriguez, who is off to a strong start for the Sixers. Despite not playing in the NBA for the past six seasons, Rodriguez has jumped right back in with averages of 13.0 points, 7.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 30.5 minutes a night.
Okafor (knee/rest) will sit out against the Magic. Ben Simmons (foot), Nerlens Noel (knee) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are also out.
Former Sixer Jodie Meeks (foot) is out for the Magic.
5. This and that
• The Sixers lost three of the four matchups against the Magic last season.
• Payton has averaged 10.6 points, 7.3 assists and 4.6 rebounds against the Sixers during his career.
• The Sixers are averaging a league-low 84.5 points through two games.
• Magic center Vucevic is putting up 20.0 points on 55 percent shooting and 13.2 rebounds in 12 games against his former team.