1. Who comes to play?
In a game John Hollinger dubbed as the “Implosion Bowl”, the Sixers and Magic meet. While Orlando’s rightfully been in the headlines for their shenanigans, the Sixers aren’t far behind in the Complete Team Meltdown Sweepstakes. The Sixers also have less talent. I can’t imagine that the Magic come out ready to go, so if the Sixers do, they have a chance to beat a team with a good record. If they don’t, talent will win out.
Also, Hedo Turkoglu was injured on Thursday and will be out for this game (and the remainder of the regular season). I’ll discuss this point more in the next point, but we know he won’t come.
2. Willingness to get inside
Dwight Howard has been the best defensive player in the NBA for at least 5 years now due to his ability to completely alter any shot that comes near him in the paint. Whether he puts himself to the task tonight is still in question, but if he does that cannot stop the Sixers from trying to generate dribble penetration. The Magic’s perimeter defense isn’t much of a threat – everyone out there besides Howard gives up substantial size or quickness advantages to most opposing players and relies upon Dwight to cover up their mistakes. If Dwight happens to, well, not care tonight, then we could be in for a field day. If he does decide to care, then the Sixers still need to get into the paint. While Dwight may force bad shots, it’s better than settling for 20-footers like normal (I’m looking at you, Jrue Holiday).
Meanwhile, the Magic have a precious few distributors on their roster. Jameer Nelson can get the job done when healthy, and Hedo Turkoglu can be effective if frustrating. But since Hedo will be out, the Sixers should only have to focus on really stopping Jameer, along with that big guy in the paint. Everyone else the Magic can throw at us isn’t much to worry about.
3. Keeping the damage to the good players
*Note: Edited to reflect lack of Ryan Anderson playing – Glen Davis will likely start*
Orlando will be missing two of its top four/five players, so the Sixers will have an easier time that most against Orlando. They’ll need to limit the damage to just Nelson, Howard, and Jason Richardson. If a role player steps up and plays well, it would surprise me, but nonetheless court hurt the Sixers. So if say Von Wafer or Ishmael Smith has a big game (I’m trying not to laugh, since Alan Anderson recently lit the Sixers up), then we could be in for trouble.