The 76ers took on the last unbeaten NBA team during a New Year’s eve matchup with the host Orlando Magic.
Orlando sure didn’t play like a team an unbeaten team. The Sixers jumped to a 35-point halftime lead and coasted.
Here are some quick takes on the game:
One difference for the Sixers is that 3,247 fans were allowed to attend the game. This was the second time, the Sixers played with fans in the stands this season. There were 300 fans in Sunday’s 118-94 loss at Cleveland.
It’s still a big deal when Ben Simmons attempts a three-pointer, let alone makes one. Early in the first quarter, he didn’t hesitate after taking a pass from Joel Embiid and drilled a three.
Notice that Aaron Gordon didn’t make any effort to defend the shot. Simmons will continue to be given that shot. What was impressive was there was no hesitation. That doesn’t mean that Simmons will start jacking up threes. That made him only 3-for-25 in his career, but he will be more effective if he can take a few more outside shots because he won’t face much defensive resistance.
Once considered a young star, Gordon has seemed to regress. If he insists on shooting threes regularly instead of playing to his strength, which is operating closer to the basket, he will continue to struggle
Simmons is a reigning first-team all-NBA defender, and his opening assignment was former Sixer Markelle Fultz, who entered the game averaging 18.3 points. Fultz had trouble dealing with Simmons and missed all four first-quarter shots. In the first half he was 1-for-8 and had a minus-30 rating.
Simmons played off Fultz, giving him the outside shot but not letting him drive to the basket. One time in the first half, Fultz got by Simmons and drove to the basket but couldn’t finish.
Fultz scored his first points on a driving layup in the second quarter and, not surprisingly, Simmons was out of the game.
To his credit, Fultz kept battling and used his quickness to beat Simmons on three drives to the basket in the third quarter.
Embiid has many skills, but when he shows guard skills getting to the basket, with a spin move and then jams it, there is really no defense for that.
Former Sixer Nikola Vucevic had no chance at stopping that shot. If Embiid is embarking on an MVP campaign, this play should be part of his resume tape.
Matisse Thybulle was scoreless in the Sixers’ first four games, and he had attempted just three shots. In the second quarter alone Thursday night, he scored nine points. It started with a drive to the basket that seemed to give Thybulle confidence. He also hit two threes.
One reason the Sixers expanded on their 16-point first quarter lead was the aggressive play of the reserves. Besides Thybulle, Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey went into the game and attacked the basket aggressively. Here is one of those instances by Maxey.
The Magic were on their heels defensively because the Sixers, especially Milton and Maxey, were aggressively taking it to the basket.