Quiet Start, to Say the Least
It was very unusual to see someone as emphatic as Jimmy Butler have a quiet opening game. Obviously most of it was not knowing a ton of the playbook and getting familiar with his teammates, having only one practice with them before this road game against the Orlando Magic.
Jimmy Butler posted a stat line of 14 points, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds in 33 minutes played. Despite the quiet stat line, he contributed by giving advice and tips to new teammate Amir Johnson about how to break down certain defenses that the Magic were showing Johnson. He also was encouraging Amir Johnson to be more aggressive and take the open jumper if he gets a good look. These are very good signs after one game from a guy who has had chemistry issues with both his previous teams.
76ers’ Lack of Depth
Jimmy Butler was traded to Philadelphia from Minnesota for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a future 2nd-round pick. For the Sixers, this most certainly opened up some depth issues. The second unit for Philly is made up of Mike Muscala, Amir Johnson, Landry Shamet, Markelle Fultz, and Furkan Korkmaz. They need help… BAD. They will definitely have to be active in the buyout market in February like they were last year (acquired Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova). They also have assets to move such as picks and some end of bench guys to maybe land someone like a Kyle Korver from the Cleveland Cavaliers to help boost their bench. Having Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid makes the Sixers a tough Eastern Conference contender for sure, but adding some more shooters around these three stars to compliment them could make them NBA Finals contenders.
Terrence Ross comes up HUGE
Despite all of this Jimmy Butler talk, the Orlando Magic came out slow in this game, but picked it up in the second half. They outscored the 76ers 35-19 in the 4th quarter. This game was the third game of a three-game road trip against the Grizzlies, Heat, and finally the Magic.
The Magic were led by Nikola Vucevic, who had a game-high 30 points. The rest of the Magic points were spread amongst the young core. The most important role for the Orlando Magic was played by 6th man Terrance Ross. He finished in this one with 15 points, but made the most important one when it counted. He sank a game-winning three-pointer with a few seconds left to put the Magic up by 3. They would go on to win, 111-106.