Matchup Preview: Orlando Magic vs Toronto Raptors


Over the next month, we’ll be talking with a variety of people who cover each NBA team to find out a little bit about their team, and how they expect the season to go. We’ll also find out what they believe will be the most intriguing matchup when the two team’s meet during the regular season. Continuing with the Atlantic Division, we look at the Toronto Raptors. Alex Wong of SB Nation’s Raptors HQ joins us to talk about the up and coming Raptors. Make sure you give Alex a follow on twitter @steven_lebron

Game Dates 

Saturday, November 1st @ Orlando 

Tuesday, November 11th @ Toronto

Monday, December 15th @ Toronto 

Friday, April 10th @ Orlando 

Last Season: 48-34; Third in Eastern Conference; Lost in First Round to Brooklyn 

January 29th: Toronto 98 Orlando 83 

February 23rd: Toronto 105 Orlando 90 

March 30th: Orlando 93 Toronto 98 

Projected Starters 

Point Guard: Kyle Lowry 

Shooting Guard: Terrence Ross 

Small Forward: DeMar DeRozan

Power Forward: Patrick Patterson 

Center: Jonas Valanciunas 

Apr 30, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at Air Canada Centre. The Toronto Raptors won 115-113.Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Q: We’re looking at almost an identical roster from last season for the Raptors. How important is that high return rate going to be for their success? 

A: Very important. Kyle Lowry, Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez all came back on reasonable deals (term and dollars) and all three will be part of the team’s regular rotation. Masai Ujiri stressed the importance of continuity and chemistry a lot. And while those buzzwords might make people roll their eyes, he’s structured the contracts and has the team in a position to make additional moves as they need for the next few summers should opportunities present themselves. So, in the short-term, the team continues to build on last season, and if it looks like they’re not good enough to take the next steps to being a contender, there’s room for Ujiri to change course. There’s a lot of flexibility here which is exciting. 

Q: Kyle Lowry took that next step as a point guard last season. What should we expect to see out of him this season? That same high level of play, or some regression?

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A: I think more of the same. You have to consider that Lowry’s been in various teams and situations in his career and last year he really settled in with a team and a head coach that he could get along with. Also, his running mate DeMar DeRozan improved his game and became an All-Star, which helped a lot too. 

I wouldn’t expect a lot of regression. Kyle is not a perfect player, sometimes his shot selection can be questionable, but he brings so much to the table especially on this team that I wouldn’t expect him to regress. 

Q: What’s one matchup you’ll be watching when the Raptors and Magic meet?

A: I think it’ll be fun to see Aaron Gordon and who he matches up against on our team. 

Q: After being a surprise team last season, what kind of expectations are fair for the Raptors this year? Could we see an even deeper playoff run?

A: I think the baseline expectation is to make the playoffs and win the Atlantic Division. After that, who knows. So much of the East and the playoffs in general depends on match-ups. Remember, this team has still never won a best-of-seven playoff series in franchise history, so getting to the second round would be a huge accomplishment from a big picture perspective, and would also signify progress from last year. In my mind, I could see this team winning 50 games and getting to the second round. Of course, that is the best case scenario.