Aaron Gordon and the Orlando Magic looked comfortable as they took a win in their preseason opener. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
The Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks meet for their first preseason matchup of the year. Both teams are looking to see how their new additions work with their existing lineups.
Basketball is finally back after a short break from the NBA Bubble for the Orlando Magic but an even longer one for the Atlanta Hawks. Although Friday’s game was only a preseason exhibition game, there are still several things to take away from it.
Both the Magic and the Hawks have several new faces on their respective rosters and Friday was a chance to see them against another NBA team. The Hawks made additions to their starting lineup and bolstered their bench, while the Magic added young unproven talent.
For the most part, the Magic brought last year’s team back and in limited minutes, the returners showed they are back and ready to compete. Evan Fournier lit up the Hawks in the first quarter and finished with 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting in 22 minutes. The team’s all-star, Nikola Vucevic did what he always does and put up an easy 18 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in 25 minutes.
Although the sample size is small, the Magic’s defense looked solid against an offensive-minded Hawks. The Magic finished in the top 10 in defensive efficiency last year which should carry over to this coming season. They took an early 26-13 lead and the starters built double-digit leads in both of their stints to start the half.
Offensively, the starting lineup functioned as it did last year. Handoffs and pin downs between Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic worked like a charm while Markelle Fultz and Aaron Gordon created off the dribble.
However, while the Magic operated as expected, they were not as active on the boards. This led to several put backs from John Collins or kick-outs from Clint Capela. The Magic grabbed 49 rebounds to the Hawks’ 61. Clint Capela grabbed 14 rebounds and was particularly dominant against lineups including Khem Birch as the lone big man.
Most likely the Magic will not be running lineups consisting of Khem Birch and Carter-Williams as the biggest players so expect this to change as Mohamed Bamba and James Ennis re-enter the lineup.
The Magic and the Hawks will play their second preseason game against each other on Sunday.