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Staying on schedule for regular season


David Manning/USA TODAY

The Magic are a little more than a week away from kicking off their 25th anniversary season.

One week from Tuesday, the Magic open up at Indiana. Right now, the Magic are 1-3 in the preseason and doing some good things and doing some bad things. That is somewhat expected at this point in the preseason. Slowly but surely — more surely than slowly hopefully — the Magic will begin preparing for the regular season and getting their games in tune.

There are just three more preseason games to get there.

The pace of what we have been doing is pretty decent," coach Jacque Vaughn said of his team's preparations for the regular season. "I think overall we're still a work in progress. The good thing is we have more time befoer we lace them up fro real. We will continue to use these practice days to our advantage and the games as well. When I got practice plans together and the things I wanted in and you timeline that out in the offseason, you never get to where you want to. You're better at some things and worse at some things and that's the challenge every day."

The Magic certainly have looked good in several areas. The offense has looked good at times and the team has looked more comfortable and confident in their abilities as a whole. Several players certainly look much improved and are finding ways to work these additions into their games.

There have been hiccups though.

Orlando is giving up 101.6 points per game on 40.6 percent shooting. That means those 31.2 free throw attempts per game the team has given up loom very large. So too does the 20.40 turnovers per game the team is committing.

Some of this certainly will be counteracted once Orlando plays its veterans more regularly. Vaughn has stuck to his plan of resting players at key moments and keeping players who are hurt out so they can recover.

Doron Lamb has not played this preseason yet while nursing an ankle injury. Tobias Harris has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, one that he could probably play on if it were necessary. Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo and Jason Maxiell have also been given games off throughout the preseason so far.

Their stat lines are not necessarily that pretty either.

Afflalo is averaging 10.3 points per game on 45.3 percent shooting but has made only 3 of his 11 3-point attempts. You have to assume that will get better when he is playing more than 23.3 minutes per game.

Similarly, Jameer Nelson is averaging 7.0 points per game on 28.6 percent shooting. Nelson will certainly should better when the games start counting. He recognizes that too and said he is making sure to take care of his body and get mentally ready for the long slog ahead.

"For me it's not about making shots, missing shots," Nelson said. "It's about continuing to get my body where I need to be. I feel like I am on pace for the things that I need to do. Just get there mentally as well. Get my feet wet in terms of just playing basketball again and being around the guys."

For guys like Nelson and Afflalo who have been in the league for a long time, this is likely as important as anything else at this point in the year. That is an emphasis of Vaughn's as well when it comes to the veteran players. He said he will begin stretching their minutes out through the final three preseason games. The games though are mor to test out how their bodies are feeling and how they respond the next day.

So far, it seems, so good on that front. It is largely known what veterans are going to provide the team.

For young players like Maurice Harkless, the experience of preseason is about working out the kinks on the improvements they made in the offseason and getting experience and repetitions with teammates new and old.

"It is going pretty good," Harkless said. "Just using this time to show what I have improved on and learned from. Things that I can and cannot do. The more experience the better. I'm just using this time to get out there and get more experience and play with my teammates."

The Magic appear to be on track to be ready to roll come Oct. 29.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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