What Magic Johnson Said About Lakers Playing Sixers in NBA Finals

The Philadelphia 76ers ended the Los Angeles Lakers' perfect road record on Wednesday night and Magic Johnson has tipped the two teams to meet in the NBA Finals for the first time in 19 years.

Tobias Harris hit the game-winning jumper with three seconds left as the Sixers defeated the Lakers 107-106 and improved to 13-6 for the season to remain top of the Eastern Conference standings one game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Lakers, meanwhile, suffered their first road loss of the season and slipped to 14-5 but maintained a 0.5-game margin over the Los Angeles Clippers in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

The matchup in Philadelphia was a world away from the mundane affair that can often blight games in the early stages of the regular season, with both the Lakers and Sixers treating it with the intensity normally reserved for the playoffs.

Magic, who won five NBA titles with the Lakers, was clearly impressed, suggesting the two teams could cross paths in the Finals and tipping Philadelphia big man Joel Embiid to be the regular season MVP.

"That was the most exciting NBA game this season [...] I wouldn't be surprised if these two teams were in the NBA Finals," he tweeted.

That was the most exciting NBA game this season! Tobias Harris hit the game winning shot for the Sixers and finished with 24 points. MVP candidate Embiid had 28. I wouldn’t be surprised if these two teams were in the NBA Finals!

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 28, 2021

Lakers and Sixers went to head-to-head in one of the NBA's defining rivalries of the 1980s, which pitted the likes of Magic and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar against Moses Malone and Julius Erving.

In 1980, the Lakers defeated the Sixers in six games as Magic capped his rookie season with the NBA Finals MVP crown, which he won again two years later when the Purple and Gold overcame Philadelphia in six games. The tables turned dramatically in 1983, when the Sixers swept the Lakers and Malone was named MVP.

Eighteen years later, the two franchises met again in the Finals. Allen Iverson led the Sixers to a memorable victory in Los Angeles in Game 1, before the Lakers won the next four straight to secure the second consecutive title of the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal era.

While the Sixers remain top of the Eastern Conference, bookmakers currently have them behind the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks in the betting to secure the No. 1 seed in the conference.

According to FanDuel, the Nets are 6-4 favorites, followed by the Bucks at 11-4 and the Sixers at 7-1. The Lakers, on the other hand, are 5-4 favorites to win the Western Conference and 13-5 favorites to defend the NBA title they won in September.

Speaking after the game, Harris said defeating the Lakers was a major confidence boost for Philadelphia.

"Some people think we haven't played anybody," he explained. "For us, we wanted to go against the champs. We wanted to see where we're at."

LeBron James, Tobias Harris
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers jokes with Tobias Harris #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center on January 27 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty