Instant Observations: 76ers’ Balanced Production Leads to Embiid-Less Win Over Magic

Instant Observations: 76ers’ Balanced Production Leads to Embiid-Less Win Over Magic Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

It took five games, but the Philadelphia 76ers (21-9) won their first game of the season with superstar Joel Embiid out of the lineup. The Sixers defeated the Orlando Magic (18-12) 112-92 on Wednesday night at the Kia Center.

Tyrese Maxey led the Sixers with 23 points, six rebounds and two assists. Tobias Harris added in 22 points and seven rebounds. Paul Reed finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. The Sixers were playing this game without Embiid (right ankle sprain) and Nic Batum (right hamstring strain).

Orlando was led in the loss by Franz Wagner, who scored 24 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists. Jalen Suggs finished with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Paolo Banchero added in 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists. The Magic were missing Markelle Fultz (left knee tendinitis), Gary Harris (right calf strain), Joe Ingles (left ankle sprain) and Jonathan Isaac (right hamstring soreness).

The Sixers’ next matchup is at the Houston Rockets on Friday night. Here are some instant observations from the win over the Magic:

Maxey recovers from worst game of season

All eyes were going to be on Maxey and how he was going to rebound off his 4-for-20 shooting performance in the loss to the Miami Heat. Early foul trouble limited him to just four first-quarter minutes. However, upon returning to the floor in the second quarter he immediately showed he was back to his typical form. He scored 14 points in the second frame, with many of them coming as a result of his patented combination of speed and an ability to score from around the rim. His ability to finish through contact is superb, as evidenced by the multiple crafty finishes he had against Orlando.

Orlando put a ton of focus on trying to slow Maxey down and force the ball out of his hands. Even with Maxey being forced to play more off the ball, he still continued to make his presence felt. He knocked down a killer 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter that sealed the win for the Sixers. It was impressive to see Maxey recover from his brutal game against Miami without letting it spiral into a prolonged slump.

Harris continues to be aggressive

For the third consecutive game, Harris played with aggressiveness and looked to attack with confidence. He consistently took advantage of smaller Orlando defenders whether it was through strong post play or effective drives to the basket. It was also a positive to see him continue to have a quick trigger from 3-point range. While the shots were not falling, this is a case of the process being more important than the results. The Sixers need Harris to consistently take advantage of the open looks defenses are giving him from beyond the arc. In an example of what happens when he keeps on shooting despite poor results, he connected on a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer from the corner to help halt a potential Magic run in the fourth quarter.

Beverley, Morris Sr. both have strong nights off bench

The Sixers, with multiple starters out of the lineup, needed to receive significant production from throughout the rotation. Marcus Morris Sr. and Pat Beverley answered the call. With the offense sputtering near the end of the first quarter, Beverley injected some life with a few tough baskets. The second basket came on a possession he nearly derailed. After passing up on an open 3-pointer, he saved the possession by knocking down a running hook shot near the end of the shot clock.

Beverley continued to impact the game in the second half through a mixture of shotmaking and his typical pesky defense. He finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block.

When Morris came to Philadelphia as part of the James Harden trade, many thought he did not have much, if anything, left in the tank. However, his play over the past few weeks has proven he is still capable of producing off the bench. Beginning in the final minutes of the first frame and extending into the start of the second quarter, he served as the engine of the team’s offense. He showcased his versatility, scoring in pick-and-roll actions with Maxey as well as playing bully ball against smaller Orlando defenders. Morris finished this contest with 14 points and three rebounds.

Reed, Bamba produce with Embiid out of lineup

Following Mo Bamba scoring a season-high 18 points against the Heat, it was interesting to see how the big man minutes would be doled out against Orlando. Reed still got the start at center, and he produced with his best game of the season. He had multiple finishes from around the basket in addition to crashing the offensive glass and setting a ton of hard screens.

Bamba, coming off the bench, also played significant minutes. While he failed to score a point, he still found ways to produce in other areas. In 16 minutes, Bamba totaled seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. When Embiid eventually returns to the lineup, it will likely result in Bamba being phased out of the rotation. However, his performances over the last two games are definitely encouraging.

Melton’s all-around night

De’Anthony Melton has had an up-and-down season up to this point. His performance against the Magic was one of his better games of the season. From the opening tip, he impacted the game through active defense and efficient shooting. In addition to knocking down a couple 3-pointers, Melton also uncharacteristically had a few finishes around the rim. While he was effective throughout the night, his best stretch of the game came in the final minutes. He buried a pair of 3-pointers to help seal the win for the Sixers. Melton recorded 22 points, five rebounds and two steals in the victory.

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