ORLANDO — The last two weeks have all been an interesting experiment for the Magic and coach Stan Van Gundy. After giving up Marcin Gortat, everyone has been searching for the team’s backup center.
Complicating matters further is Brandon Bass’ knee injury and the potential he could miss a few weeks after arthroscopic surgery. That has not happened yet and neither will Bass’ absence. Stan Van Gundy said Bass will likely play Monday against Golden State.
“We still don’t know for sure, but I think he is going to go,” Van Gundy said before Monday’s game against the Warriors.
The Magic have been actively searching for some help along the front line, especially to backup Dwight Howard. Malik Allen has been out with a sprained ankle since the trades occurred, leaving the Magic to use only Bass, Ryan Anderson and Earl Clark to help split the minutes behind Howard. Bass is obviously the player with the best potential to fill in at center, having done so in his time with Dallas.
Losing Bass could be bad news then as it would put a lot of pressure on guys that have not played a lot at center to step in for those 10 minutes per game Howard needs a breather (or doesn’t as Van Gundy might say). But the potential loss of Bass is not quickening the pace in that search for a backup center.
“I don’t think so. We’re looking as it is,” Van Gundy said. “We get Malik Allen back here within a week. We’ll be OK. If something comes up that can help us, I know Otis will look into it, but I don’t think it’s a necessity.”
It seems as though Van Gundy is not worried about what the Magic might do without Bass in the lineup for a short period of time. It will be interesting to see how Bass does tonight as he attempts to give it a go.
Van Gundy said at the time of the trade that he was reluctant to play Hedo Turkoglu at the four, but losing Bass may force Turkoglu to play some out of position. Even if it is temporary, it might be something Turkoglu has to do as the team continues to adjust.
“It’s tough because I’ve never played in that situation,” Turkoglu said. “I just have to do my best and play to win the game.”
The last two weeks have been an interesting challenge for Van Gundy as he tries to piece together a lineup on the fly with limited practice time. The team had three days between games and had two practices to prepare for Monday’s game against Golden State. Van Gundy said after Thursday night a lot of the practice time would be used to install a few more offensive sets and work on the team’s defense.
Van Gundy said repetitions are what is most important and he still is not placing his usual expectations on this team quite yet.
“I don’t think practice necessarily works like that it comes in the next game. The value of practice and repetition is over time. I don’t know what effect it will have tonight. I think in the long run, the more days that we get in as this goes on and on over the last three and a half months here. I think that repetition is very important. But I don’t think in a one game thing that it’s very important.”
The Magic are still very much learning each other’s tendencies and improving as a unit. Repetitions in practice will be key, but soe will simply playing. Turkoglu said learning how to play with each through these repetitions will be key to the long-term success of the team.
“No matter what we do, we’re still going to be underdogs,” Turkoglu said. “We just have to be ourselves and do what we can do and play our game and we will reach that level.”