Sixers Host Magic Saturday Night
The Philadelphia 76ers (1-1) are back in action on Saturday night as the play host to the Orlando Magic at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers are coming off of a convincing win over the Bulls in their home opener while the Magic suffered a 32-point loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Tonight's match-up will come just a short while after they met in the preseason, which resulted in a 120-114 win for the Sixers.
After two games on national television, we'll get back to the local crew of Marc Zumoff and Alaa Abdelnaby this evening, which will be a welcomed change.
Here are some things to watch for in tonight's game:
Joel Embiid vs. Mo Bamba
This will be one of the better match-ups to watch tonight. The two big men trained together with Drew Hanlen over the summer after Bamba was selected sixth overall by the Magic in the draft. Videos over the summer revealed Embiid bullying Bamba on the court and that rolled over to their preseason matchup a few weeks ago. Embiid didn't mince words about his dominance, but was also very complimentary of Bamba after the game. Joel finished with 21 points compared to Bamba's 12.
“He’s really skinny, can’t guard me,” Embiid said after the game. “He had like four fouls in eight minutes. He’s lucky that I didn’t play more minutes — he would’ve fouled out in like 10 minutes. But he has a lot of potential. I’m going to keep trying to help him become what he’s supposed to be, and I think he’s going to be really good.”
The two had a fun social media back-and-forth after the game, where Embiid called Bamba "bbq chicken in the post". Through his first two regular season NBA games, Bamba is averaging 6.5 points and 6.0 rebounds. After scoring 13 points in Orlando's season opener, he was held scoreless in their 30+ point defeat against the Hornets.
Increased Minutes for Landry Shamet
While most of the attention is being paid to Markelle Fultz and his jump shot and overall play, rookie guard Landry Shamet is starting to cement himself as a regular for Brett Brown, although it has only been two games. After playing 13 minutes in the opener against Boston, Shamet played 29 minutes against Chicago, taking the majority of T.J. McConnell's minutes as the game progressed. The former Wichita State product finished with 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc. In addition to his scoring punch off the bench, Shamet's feet are very active on defense and just looks like he belongs out there.
"My whole thing is I want to come in and contribute to winning,” Shamet said. “However that is, and if it’s five minutes a game, then it's going to be the best five minutes that I can give out, and if it’s 20, then I am going to do that to the best of my ability.”
Fultz Gaining Confidence
Although Markelle Fultz shot 5-for-15 on Thursday night, he took the most shots on the team, which should be viewed as a positive step forward. Early in the game, he looked to pass up open shots, but as the Sixers padded their lead, he became more confident and played more loosely.
"I worked hard this summer," said Fultz. "Tonight, I didn't make a lot of shots, but I am going to keep shooting. If I see an open shot, then I'm going to shoot it; that's what I worked for."
Ideally, Fultz's success towards the end of the game against the Bulls will carry over tonight against the Magic. If teams continue to sag off of him on defense, he needs to start taking advantage of every opportunity he can get. At this point, it's about taking the shots, not making them all necessarily, so seeing him spot up for some more jumpers earlier in the game will continue the progress he's made to this point.
Dario Saric's Funk
Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and even Robert Covington look to have shaken off some rust from the season opener to contribute in game two. One of the guys who has yet to find his groove though is Dario Saric. After another summer of playing with the Croatian national team, Saric pretty much immediately came into training camp, preseason and now the regular season. Dario is still doing what he normally does, but he looks a little winded out there. His shots are falling short, which is a sign that he could still be getting back into the NBA swing of things. Through two games, he's shooting just 35 percent from the floor and 20 percent from beyond the arc.
The Sixers will need his perimeter shooting as a part of the starting five, especially after the breakout year he had last season.
"I want to have a better season than last year," Saric told Vice Sports. "I want to establish myself in the starting five, play more minutes than last year, and be better in every part of my game."
Sixers: Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Joel Embiid
Magic: D.J. Augustin, Evan Fournier, Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon, Nik Vucevic
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic