Sixers

Zone looks inevitable as Sixers face another cellar dweller

Sixers

The Sixers seek a fifth straight win, the Magic an end to their six-game losing streak.

Here are the essentials for Wednesday night’s game in Orlando: 

  • When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:15 p.m. 
  • Where: Amway Center 
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
  • Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app 

And here are storylines to watch: 

Who’s available? 

As of Wednesday afternoon, seven Magic players and six Sixers were listed as out. Doc Rivers cleared COVID-19 protocols and will be back as head coach. 

Four Sixers players are currently out in health and safety protocols, with Paul Reed the latest addition. Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle and Jaden Springer are the other three, while Myles Powell is questionable. New 10-day hardship signing Braxton Key will be available. 

Shake Milton is out with a back contusion he suffered during Monday’s victory over Houston, meaning Seth Curry and Furkan Korkmaz should again see substantial time at point guard. Korkmaz was in a major slump when the Sixers played Orlando on Nov. 29, shooting 1 for 6 from the floor, but he was good Monday in a 24-point performance and likes being asked to handle the ball. Perhaps he can keep building confidence against another opponent at the bottom of the standings.  

The Magic listed two usual starters, Cole Anthony and Wendell Carter Jr., as questionable. Anthony (right ankle sprain) has missed the past five games. Carter, who’s been starting next to Mo Bamba in Orlando’s frontcourt, has a non-COVID illness. 

 

Zone appears inevitable 

Though the Sixers beat the Magic in November, the team’s zone offense wasn’t pretty. Orlando was competitive down the stretch and Bamba was especially strong in the back line of the zone, blocking a career-high six shots. 

“It’s hard to beat a zone when there’s no movement, there’s no downhill attacks,” Rivers said after a 101-96 win. “It was the slowest zone offense — maybe ever.”

Assuming Orlando goes to zone again, we imagine the Sixers will aim for brisker ball movement, greater decisiveness and more touches for reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Month Joel Embiid. Of course, making open three-point looks is always nice, too. 

Harris could sure use something positive

The basic truth behind Tobias Harris’ back and forth with booing Sixers fans on Monday is that everyone involved wants the 29-year-old to play better basketball.

Simplifying it even further: Both Harris and the fanbase would like to see him make a three-point shot again. He hasn’t hit a long-range jumper since Dec. 20 and is 0 for his last 11 from long range. For the season, Harris is at 28.7 percent on threes, which would be his worst mark since the 2013-14 campaign with the Magic.

Logic suggests Harris will eventually start making shots at or near his typical rate, and that it might happen on the road against one of his former teams.