The Orlando Magic haven't been off to a great start to the 2021-2022 NBA season. As the team clearly entered a rebuild after establishing themselves at sellers during last year's trade deadline, Orlando wasn't expected to win too many games this season. In addition to the state of the team and where they are at, the Magic are also dealing with some significant injuries, which have affected their progress.
Prior to Monday night's matchup between the Magic and the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando possessed a record of four wins and 17 losses. Over their last ten matchups, they've won just one game. For a team like the Sixers, who are getting healthy and are clearly playoff contenders, the Magic were expected to be an easy win for them.
But Sixers head coach Doc Rivers didn't want his team taking the opponent lightly. As trap games certainly exist, Rivers wanted to ensure his team didn't fall into a bad habit of playing down against a bad team -- especially when the Sixers really needed Monday night's win to help them get back on track.
For the first quarter of action, the Sixers were taking care of business as expected. In the first 12 minutes, they outscored the Magic 31-19. After that, though, the Sixers seemingly took their foot off the gas as they were outscored by nine points over the next two quarters.
Did the Sixers end up taking the "lesser" opponent lightly on Monday night? Doc Rivers weighed in on the notion after Monday's matchup. "You never know you can be playing great and have a low energy game, and you never know when that's going to happen," said Rivers. "You know we talked before the game about respecting your opponent, humility, you know? I don't know if that was it because we came out and played great the first six minutes, and then it all just went away."
Although the Sixers struggled to maintain their significant lead after a hot start on Monday night, they managed to come out on top. After taking the Magic down 101-96, the Sixers picked up their 11th win of the year on Monday. While it wasn't an inspiring win in Rivers' eyes, he'll take it regardless.
"I'll take any win," he explained. "I rather win these than lose these, and so you'll take them and keep pushing on."
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.