Preview: Magic hope to rebound vs. young, hungry 76ers squad
TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
The triple-doubles are occurring often for rookie Ben Simmons and the ball movement also happens frequently for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Simmons attempts to get another triple-double while the 76ers seek their 23rd straight game with at least 20 assists Thursday night when they visit the Orlando Magic.
Philadelphia (40-30) is two wins shy of securing its first winning record since going 43-39 in 2004-05. Simmons was a 10-year-old in Australia when the Sixers posted their last winning season and now he is among the reasons for Philadelphia’s success.
Simmons is averaging 16.2 points, 7.9 assists, and 7.8 rebounds in his first 69 games. The Sixers are 8-3 this month and Simmons’ averages are 13.6 points, 10.5 assists, and 8.5 rebounds.
Simmons has three triple-doubles in his last five games. He nearly posted his 10th triple-double with 13 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds but rested in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 119-105 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies when the Sixers handed out 32 assists.
He has at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in 13 straight games. This season, Simmons owns 49 games with at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists, something only LeBron James and Russell Westbrook have done more often.
Simmons is helping the Sixers constantly get at least 20 assists.
Their streak is the team’s longest since doing it in 24 straight from Nov. 24, 1992-Jan. 13, 1993 according to basketball-reference. When Philadelphia did it in its first season after trading Charles Barkley to Phoenix, it went 9-15 during a 56-loss season but during this streak, the Sixers are 16-6 since starting the streak on Feb. 2 against Miami.
“Our 30 assists is an example of we share the ball, we get along and there’s a competitiveness defensively that they’re buying into and beginning to hold each other more accountable,” said Philadelphia coach Brett Brown, whose team is averaging 27.6 assists in his last 22 games.
A beneficiary of the ball movement is Embiid, who recorded four straight double-doubles before finishing with 14 and seven rebounds Wednesday. Embiid is averaging 22.9 points and 11.5 rebounds in 21 games since Philadelphia began its streak of 20-assist games.
At times, Embiid has been held out of at least one game on a back-to-back set but he is expected to play Thursday.
“When I miss a day or two and I don’t really do anything I get out of shape really quick,” Embiid said. “So being consistent about playing and not missing two or three days I know my body, I’ve learned my body for the past three years. I know my body and I feel like that’s how it works. I want to keep going. Honestly, I’ve been feeling good, I haven’t been tired, so I just got to keep it going.”
Orlando (21-50) has clinched a second straight 50-loss season. The Magic reached 50 losses for the fifth time in six years when they scored 10 points in the fourth quarter of a 93-86 home loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
The Magic are 1-7 in their last eight games after getting consecutive home wins over the Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies three weeks ago. During the last eight games, the Magic are averaging 93.4 points on 42.1 percent shooting.
On Tuesday, the Magic shot 41.1 percent but missed 14 of their first 15 shots in the fourth quarter and 16 of 19 overall in the final 12 minutes.
“It’s about decision-making and execution,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “If you’re getting pressured, you’ve got to move the ball along. If you’re getting to the rim and you don’t have a clean look, you’ve got to kick it out. We’ve just got to make better decisions.”
Aaron Gordon went 0-for-4 in the final 12 minutes and finished with 16 points in his return from missing five games with a concussion.
Shelvin Mack led the Magic with 17 points and was 1 of 6 in the fourth quarter on a night when the Magic were held to fewer than 90 points for the 11th time.
Evan Fournier missed his sixth straight game with a sprained knee and is not expected to play Thursday.