Sixers-Magic 5 Things: A Chance to End the 5-game Skid

The Sixers (18-34) close out their latest back-to-back set when they travel to face the Orlando Magic (20-34) at the Amway Center (7 p.m./CSN, and the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

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1. More misery
Remember when the Sixers went 10-5 in January for their best month in years and had a legitimate outside chance at the playoffs? Seems like a long time ago.

Since the calendar flipped to February, all of that momentum has disappeared. The Sixers suffered a 111-103 loss on Wednesday, their fifth straight defeat to open the month.

With Joel Embiid still sidelined by a knee contusion, defense again proved to be the Sixers' downfall. They allowed the Spurs to shoot 52.7 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from three-point range.

The Sixers should have an easier time defending a banged-up Magic team that ranks 29th in scoring, 24th in field goal percentage and 28th in three-point percentage.

2. Showcase special
The Sixers' offense was not an issue against the Spurs, mainly because of a strong effort from Jahlil Okafor.

In another start for Embiid, Okafor came out of the blocks strong and never looked back. The center scored 20 points on 5 of 10 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots.

The second-year center turned in the quality effort as trade rumors continue to swirl around him.

"I'm a Sixer right now and we have a big game tomorrow night (in Orlando)," Okafor said (see story). "I am right now. I'm going to keep doing what I do. I work as hard as I can for this team and this organization and we'll see what happens."

Okafor won't be the only player thriving in the face of trade speculation when the Sixers and Magic take the court.

Orlando forward Serge Ibaka's name has recently surfaced in trade chatter. In a Jan. 30 report, it was stated that the Magic are "picking up" their efforts to trade Ibaka, a free agent after this season.

In the time since the report, Ibaka has been on a tear. He's scored at least 20 points in three of the Magic's four games, including a 28-point, 8-rebound showing against Houston on Tuesday.

3. Vucevic vengeance
One player you can pretty much book for a big game on Thursday night is Nik Vucevic, mostly because, well, he's playing the Sixers.

For those of you who forgot, Vucevic was selected with the 16th overall pick by the Sixers in the 2011 draft. The USC product turned in a promising rookie season before falling out of then-head coach Doug Collins' good graces for Lavoy Allen (50th overall pick that same draft) during the playoffs. Vucevic was then shipped to Orlando that summer as part of the infamous Andrew Bynum deal.

Since that time, Vucevic has made it his goal to dominate the Sixers every chance he gets. He has averaged 19.7 points and 13.1 rebounds (his highest mark against any opponent) against the Sixers during his career.

This season has been no different as Vooch racked up 24 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in the season's first matchup on Nov. 1. He followed that up with 12 points, 11 boards and five assists off the bench in the second meeting on Dec. 2 - both Magic wins.

4. Injuries
Embiid (knee), Richaun Holmes (upper-respiratory infection), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Aaron Gordon (foot), Jodie Meeks (thumb) and C.J. Wilcox (Achilles) are out for the Magic.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost four straight games to the Magic.

• The Magic have lost 16 of their last 21 games overall.

• In five career games against the Magic, Okafor has averaged 19.6 points and 5.6 rebounds.

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