The next step of “the process” begins for the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night in Orlando as the Magic host one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.
For the Sixers, Wednesday’s game is the first opportunity to show-off their shiny new toy. The Jimmy Butler saga officially came to an end this past Monday (deal was announced Saturday) after weeks of drama and ensuing speculation over where Butler would land (Miami, Houston, etc.). Butler played ten games for Minnesota this season, but all the while threatened the organization that he would opt-out of his current contract at the end of the year (if they failed to deal him).
Philadelphia landed the All-Star wing in exchange for Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless, and a future second round pick. Former first round pick Justin Patton, who has been injured for the majority of his NBA career, was also included in the deal and will be heading from Minnesota to Philadelphia.
“We have a championship window, and it’s important for us to capitalize on that,” Sixers General Manager Elton Brand told the media during a Tuesday press conference. “Jimmy is one of the best players in the league, hands down.”
Butler will be joining a Sixers team that has won seven of its last ten games. Monday night in Miami, the Sixers defeated the Heat 124-114 behind strong play from their franchise big man, Joel Embiid. Embiid scored 35 points and pulled down 18 rebounds (16-20 FT’s) in the contest, his second 30+ point effort in Philadelphia's last three games.
Philadelphia will provide a huge test for Orlando’s defense as they must find a way to match-up with Embiid, Butler, Ben Simmons, and company.
The Magic have won six of their last eight games, but dropped a close one Monday night in Washington by allowing the Wizards to shoot over 65 percent in the fourth quarter.
“It’s frustrating because this was a good opportunity for us,” Orlando center Nikola Vucevic said after the game Monday. “We had a 10-point lead in the third and we let it slip away really quick. In the fourth, we didn’t execute on the defensive end.”
Fouling was also a huge problem for the Magic against Washington. The Wizards marched to the charity stripe 33 times in the game (compared to Orlando’s eleven attempts). Finding opportunities to get to the free throw line has been a significant issue for the Magic this season.
Terrence Ross led the Magic Monday night with 21 points, his second 20+ point effort in consecutive games (also scored 22 points Sunday in New York).
It was announced early Wednesday afternoon that forward Jonathan Isaac will be available tonight against Philadelphia after missing the team’s last six games.
But all attention around the league Wednesday night will be on the bench at the opposite side of the court from the Magic inside the Amway Center. Who will Brett Brown start for the Sixers? Will trading Saric and Covington affect Ben Simmons’ role defensively?
And most importantly, how will Jimmy Butler fit alongside Embiid and Simmons?
“We’ll find ways to make things work,” Butler said during his introductory press conference. “I know what I’m capable of doing out there on the floor. I think it’s going to be easy to play off the guys we have - I don’t think the offense is going to be a problem at all.”
Philadelphia defeated Orlando 116-115 in a thrilling contest earlier this season (Evan Fournier scored 31 points). The Sixers have a current four-game winning streak going against the Magic.
GAME #15 TONIGHT— Orlando Magic PR (@Magic_PR) November 14, 2018
(pregame show at 6:30 p.m.)
@Accion979 - 810 AM/ @Salsa981orlando
What are they wearing? pic.twitter.com/OVZtuAIrLe
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