Surrounded by drama and a five-game losing streak, the Orlando Magic will try to end that streak when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night. The 76ers are also reeling, having lost eight of their last 12 games, including an embarrassing 99-78 home loss to the Toronto Raptors Wednesday, dropping them to 29-25 and seventh in the east. The Magic enter with a record of 32-23 and are now the sixth seed in the east.
These two teams met on January 30 and Philadelphia rode a suffocating defense to a 74-69 victory. Andre Iguodala had 14 points, 11 rebounds and six assists while Ryan Anderson, who scored 14 points and grabbed 20 rebounds, was Orlando’s lone bright spot. The two teams faced off again in Orlando on February 15 and the Magic got some revenge, defeating the 76ers 103-87. Ryan Anderson led the way with 27 points.
The Magic rank 16th in offensive rating (104.6), 10th in defensive rating (103.2) and play at the league’s fifth-slowest pace (89.3). The 76ers are 18th in offensive rating (103.7), first in defensive rating (98.0) and play at the seventh-slowest pace (89.6).
Tip-off from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST and will be shown nationally on ESPN and locally on FS Florida.
As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and FM 96.5 and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.
The officials for tonight’s game are Joe Crawford, Dick Bavetta and Kevin Cutler.
The Line: Orlando – 4.5 (180u)
*Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy said Ryan Anderson is “progressing well” and could return Saturday.
**Hedo Turkoglu needs surgery and will miss at least three weeks. His backup, Quentin Richardson, missed Thursday’s game with a sore back. If Quentin Richardson still can’t go, I’d assume Van Gundy would go with Jason Richardson and J.J. Redick on the wings, meaning we could see more time for Von Wafer (he scored 13 points Thursday).
Both of these teams are reeling and quickly falling down the Eastern Conference standings.
We should be in for a rather slow game – both of these teams are in the bottom third of the league in pace.
Spencer Hawes has yet to suit up against the Magic this season but he’ll play Saturday. Hawes got off to a great start before tailing off after his injury. Howard has struggled against Philadelphia this season, scoring just 17 points in each game and shot just 43.8% from the field.
The 76ers have been the league’s best defensive team this year. Andre Iguodala is having another fantastic season on the wing while Elton Brand has given big men trouble on the inside.
Jameer Nelson will have his hands full trying to contain two excellent point guards in starter Jrue Holiday (13.6 ppg) and Philadelphia’s leading scorer, sixth man, Lou Williams (15.3 ppg).
Philadelphia doesn’t really have a go-to scorer, but they are balanced – five players average in double figures and two more (Hawes, 9.7 ppg and Evan Turner, 9.2 ppg) are near double figures.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)
Tags: Andre Iguodala Chris Duhon Doug Collins Dwight Howard Elton Brand Glen Davis Hedo Turkoglu J.j. Redick Jameer Nelson Jason Richardson Jodie Meeks Jrue Holiday Larry Hughes Lou Williams Orlando Magic Otis Smith Philadelphia 76ers Quentin Richardson Ryan Anderson Spencer Hawes Stan Van Gundy Thaddeus Young Tony Battie Von Wafer