Instant Observations: Embiid, Maxey Help 76ers Cruise to Win Over Magic

Instant Observations: Embiid, Maxey Help 76ers Cruise to Win Over Magic Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers (27-13) defeated the Orlando Magic (22-20) 124-109 on Friday night at the KIA Center down in Orlando.

Joel Embiid led the Sixers with 36 points, seven rebounds, two assists and four steals. Tyrese Maxey finished with 32 points, five assists and three steals. The Sixers were missing De’Anthony Melton (lumbar spine stress response), Robert Covington (left knee inflammation), Mo Bamba (right knee inflammation) and Jaden Springer (right ankle tendinitis).

Wendell Carter Jr. led the Magic with 25 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. Paolo Banchero added in 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists. The Magic were playing without Franz Wagner (right ankle sprain) and Gary Harris (right calf strain).

The Sixers, in the midst of a back-to-back, play the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night. Here are some observations from the win over the Magic:

Another game, another dominant Embiid night

Embiid completely dominated the game for the Sixers, efficiently scoring at will. He punished the Magic defense regardless of who they attempted to defend him with. The big fella went into halftime with 28 points already on the board. Embiid scored in a variety of ways, utilizing the mid-range game and also playing straight bully ball against Orlando’s smaller big men. The cherry on top of the cake came when he alley-ooped it to himself off the backboard in the second quarter.

Orlando made the mistake in the first half of throwing a lot of single coverage against Embiid and dealing with the results. Embiid dominated with relative ease against that strategy. He finished the game with 36 points, his 19th consecutive game with 30-plus points. Embiid did not play in the fourth quarter due to the game being out of hand. His ability to score with this level of efficiency on a consistent basis is special to watch and should not be taken for granted.

Maxey recovers from slow start

For the first quarter and change, Maxey could not buy a bucket. He was getting good looks, but the shots were not falling. The 23-year-old guard opened up the game shooting a meager 1-of-7 from the field. However, he was still impacting the game through his playmaking ability. He consistently made the right reads, dishing the ball to his teammates and letting them do the work.

Things changed for him as a scorer beginning midway through the second quarter. He flipped a switch and caught fire, draining multiple 3-pointers and having a ton of success finishing around the basket. His ability to consistently make acrobatic finishes around the rim is incredible. The progress he has made over the last few years both as a finisher and in terms of his outside shooting makes him a deadly scorer offensively. Despite the slow shooting start, he played with resilience and it paid off in a major way.

Maxey scored seven points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter to help the Sixers seal the win over Orlando. His ability to take over games in the fourth quarter with Embiid on the bench continues to be a major development this season. Maxey’s strong play in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter allowed the team to sit Embiid for the entire quarter. With this game coming on the front half of a back-to-back, that extra rest is crucial.

Harris has another good start

Tobias Harris began the game like he was shot out of a cannon. He looked to attack the basket both in the half court and in transition. His efforts resulted both in layups at the rim and multiple trips to the free-throw line. His and-one finish in transition through the contact of Banchero in the first quarter was a perfect example of the early success he had playing aggressively. With both Embiid and Maxey having the hot hand, Harris did not play much of an offensive role against Orlando. Despite that, he managed to produce through playing with a high activity level on both ends of the floor. He finished the game with 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block.

Sixers’ improved activity level defensively

The Sixers’ defensive performance was a mixed bag against the Magic. They were highly active in the passing lanes, disrupting Orlando’s offense and forcing a ton of turnovers. Three different Sixers players recorded at least two steals, led by four from Embiid. The Sixers recorded 11 steals and forced 16 Magic turnovers. Their improved activity level defensively is one of the key things head coach Nick Nurse brought over from his time coaching the Toronto Raptors.

Kelly Oubre Jr. earned a shoutout in this section for playing tremendous help defense all night long. He played with his typical high energy and managed to impact the game despite not playing much of a role offensively. His activity level in all facets of the game is a significant improvement from earlier in his career. He totaled 15 points, four rebounds, two assists and a block in the win over the Magic.

Beverley fills up the stat sheet off the bench

One of the differences between the Sixers this year and in prior years is their improved depth. Pat Beverley has been a major reason for that improvement. In addition to playing pesky defense and bringing a hard-nosed attitude to the floor, he consistently fills up the box score. Against Orlando, he finished with five points, six rebounds, four assists, one steal and two blocks in 28 minutes off the bench.

Smith makes NBA debut

With the game in hand and a few minutes remaining, Terquavion Smith stepped onto the floor to make his NBA debut. He knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the game’s final minute, receiving a standing ovation from the entirety of the Sixers’ bench.

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