AP Photo/John Raoux
Whenever the Orlando Magic play against the Philadelphia 76ers, especially on the road, people like to bring up the hometown narrative for Jameer Nelson since he grew up in nearby Chester, Pennsylvania and played his college ball at St. Joseph’s.
It’s a nice story, sure, but the overriding theme this season (and in previous seasons) should be the fact that the Magic are a horrible matchup for the Sixers and that Ryan Anderson has become a nightmare matchup for Philadelphia, too.
Dating back to 2008, which marks the beginning of head coach Stan Van Gundy’s tenure with Orlando, counting their memorable series in the 2009 NBA Playoffs, the Magic have won 22 of their last 28 games against the Sixers — that stat includes tonight’s 113-100 victory.
As for Anderson, in two previous games this season against Philadelphia, he put up 14 points and a career-high 20 rebounds on January 30 as well as put up 27 points on 7-for-10 shooting from three-point range on February 15.
It was the best of both worlds for Anderson, as he posted game-highs in points (26) and rebounds (16) against the Sixers. He had it going with his scoring and rebounding. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, there was no one that could slow down Anderson in either facet. Thaddeus Young, in particular, had a whale of a time trying to account for Anderson all over the court. Especially in the paint, where Anderson dominated the Sixers with offensive rebound putbacks. For the game, Anderson had more offensive rebounds (8) than Philadelphia (4) and he was able to convert those opportunities into 10 second-chance points.
With Anderson snapping out of a three-game shooting slump, as well as Orlando getting good efforts from nearly every player in Van Gundy’s rotation (including Earl Clark notching his first career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds), they were able to come away with a relatively easy win against Philadelphia. And, even though I’m starting to sound like a broken record, the Magic were able to do all of this without Dwight Howard (herniated disk in lower back), Hedo Turkoglu (facial fracture), and Glen Davis (hyperextended right knee).
As such, even with the Sixers continuing to lose games (losers of 20 of their last 31 games), it was an impressive victory for Orlando and a well-earned one at that. For example, the Magic tied a season-high by scoring 40 points in a quarter, which subsequently was the most points Philadelphia has allowed in a quarter this season. It was just one of those nights for Orlando.
For the Magic, it pays to have favorable matchups.
However, Orlando better not enjoy the win for too long because they’re going to be on the flipside of the coin when they face off against the Boston Celtics on Thursday, a team that has thoroughly dominated the head-to-head matchup this season.
The Magic better get ready to take the same kind of punishment from the Celtics that they dished out against the Sixers.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Easy choice here. Anderson was the best player on the floor, by far, in this game and one of the main reasons why Orlando was able to beat the Sixers despite playing short-handed.
How about the Magic’s bench? Yes, Clark’s first career double-double is certainly worthy of praise but Quentin Richardson wasn’t too shabby either, providing Orlando with a big lift off the bench (13 points).