Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic thought a Markelle Fultz hype video was a good idea

The Orlando Magic thought a Markelle Fultz hype video was a good idea

Markelle Fultz, in case you needed a reminder, has not played in an NBA game since Nov. 19, 2018.

But the former Sixer whose stint in Philadelphia was defined by scapular muscle imbalance, thoracic outlet syndrome and a broken jump shot is expected to be a full participant when the Magic open training camp, Orlando president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman told reporters

What’s Fultz been doing while away from competitive action? The team’s Twitter account aimed to answer that question Wednesday in a hype video featuring dramatic music, conditioning drills and, of course, some jumpers.

The former No. 1 pick is locked in with Orlando for at least two more seasons as the team has picked up his fourth-year option for $12.3 million for the 2020-21 season. 

The Sixers traded Fultz to the Magic in February in exchange for Jonathon Simmons, a second-round pick in this year’s draft and a 2020 protected first-round pick from the Thunder. If the pick falls within the top-20, it will convey as second-round selections in 2022 and 2023.

It wasn’t a monster return for the Sixers, but until Fultz actually starts playing games again — healthy and with a repaired jumper, the Magic would hope — it’s simply not a trade you can say Orlando “won.”

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Sixers clinch Eastern Conference's third seed with Celtics' loss

Sixers clinch Eastern Conference's third seed with Celtics' loss

It’s officially official: The Sixers have clinched the Eastern Conference’s third seed with the Celtics’ loss to the Magic Sunday night.

Unlike last season when the team won its last 16 games on its way to the three seed, the Sixers have kind of limped to the finish line. With Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler both missing time, it looked like the team was just kind of coasting until the postseason.

But hey, Brett Brown and company got the job done. Brown has had to manage what feels like three different teams. In 10 games as the fully functioning “Sixers 3.0,” the team is 8-2. Is that sample size a preview of what we’ll see in the postseason? Stay tuned.

So what will the team do now with Embiid and Butler with two games left to play? Embiid played 27 minutes Saturday night in Chicago. Butler hasn’t played in the last two games. Beyond the actual injuries, the biggest concern will be their fitness level — especially with Embiid.

With the Nets’ win over the Pacers Sunday night, Brooklyn has punched its ticket to the playoffs and is currently in the driver’s seat to play the Sixers in the first round as the sixth seed. Orlando could still leapfrog the Nets with a game to play, but with both teams at 41-40, Brooklyn holds the tiebreaker after winning the season series. 

Both teams have given the Sixers trouble at times this season. They split four games with each team. The Nets have gone through a gauntlet to close out the season while the Magic have been one of the best teams in the league since the All-Star break.

But after sleepwalking through the last couple weeks of the regular season, expect a different Sixers team this coming weekend.

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Sixers can apparently turn it on and off but should probably leave it on

Sixers can apparently turn it on and off but should probably leave it on

The better NBA teams seem like they can turn it on and off during the course of an 82-game season.

The defending champion Warriors are a perfect example. They got blown out by the lowly Mavericks Saturday — granted, without Stephen Curry — and then went out and beat a hot Pistons team Sunday.

The Sixers appear to have that gift — the ability to turn it on and off on a given night.

After watching the poor effort the Sixers gave in a 119-98 loss to the Magic at Amway Center Monday night (see observations) and with just eight games remaining in the regular season, it would probably behoove them to turn it on.

After big wins over the Bucks and Celtics, you can excuse away a disappointing loss to a young and feisty Hawks team that the Sixers clearly overlooked. But the effort they showed Monday night in Orlando was putrid.

They were sloppy early, committing eight turnovers in the first half. Their defensive was porous throughout, allowing the Magic to shoot 51.7 percent from the field and still having trouble defending the pick-and-roll. Ben Simmons was out with an illness, but there’s no excuse for the Sixers to go nearly an entire quarter without a field goal at one point in the second half.

Joel Embiid reportedly refused to talk to reporters postgame. Hard to blame him after this one.

You can blame Brett Brown. You can blame Embiid getting in foul trouble. You can blame the quiet Tobias Harris and JJ Redick. You can blame Simmons’ absence. 

Whatever you decide is the culprit for this one, it boils down to effort. The Magic looked like a desperate team. The Sixers looked like a team desperate to get home from a two-game road trip.

When they do return to the Wells Fargo Center, a tall task awaits them. They take on the Nets, a team that's fighting to secure its first playoff berth since 2015 and that's had the Sixers' number through three games this season. The only reason Brooklyn didn't take all three contests is because of a Herculean effort by Jimmy Butler in the Sixers' lone win back on Nov. 25.

The sky certainly isn’t falling. The Sixers are still in the driver’s seat for the East’s third seed and once they get to the playoffs, games like these will be a distant memory.

But with just eight games left and plenty to sort out with a new-look team, the Sixers should probably turn it on ... and keep it on.

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