Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs (March 12, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic were not happy with their start to the season. The restarted season gives them a chance to start over. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic were not happy with their start to the season. The restarted season gives them a chance to start over. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic are undermanned yet again as they take on a tough back-to-back and a trip to San Antonio to take on the surprisingly strong San Antonio Spurs.

Orlando Magic (13-24) at San Antonio Spurs (18-15)


9 p.m./FOX Sports Florida




$143-$479 on StubHub

2021 Season Series:

Tonight in San Antonio; April 12 in Orlando

PaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR
San Antonio100.3109.8110.051.723.411.123.0

OMD Prediction

What is there to expect at this point from the Orlando Magic? They will be without both Aaron Gordon and Terrence Ross for Friday’s game. This is in addition to being without Evan Fournier and James Ennis, who did not make this road trip. Oh, and the team is on a back-to-back coming from Miami. These are strange times indeed. At least the San Antonio Spurs will be without DeMar DeRozan, who left the team for a personal matter. And LaMarcus Aldridge is not with the team as San Antonio works out a trade for the veteran big man.

The Magic are playing fairly well. But have to be nearly perfect to play against even quality teams unless they have an off night. That is the reality of a team struggling as much as the Magic are struggling. I would expect Orlando to have some strong moments. Even against a solid defensive big man like Jakob Poeltl, Nikola Vucevic should still find his footing. Still, this is a tough call against a Spurs team with a lot of young players playing well and now with the stage to themselves.

29. Prediction. 97. 38. 108

3 Keys To Watch

Plenty of Odd Lineups

The Orlando Magic will once again play Friday’s game with just three guards available — Dwayne Bacon, Michael Carter-Williams and Chasson Randle. That has once again forced Steve Clifford to deploy some odd lineups. Some worked Thursday, others did not.

The lineup featuring Chasson Randle, Chuma Okeke, Gary Clark, Khem Birch and Mohamed Bamba was +8 in the final 2:17 of the first quarter. They scored 144.4 points per 100 possessions in those four minutes. Get weird! OK, maybe that is not something sustainable. But Clifford has few options and he is going to have to be creative with the lineups he uses and understand the best times to use them based on matchup.

Orlando lost the game Thursday with poor spacing as Dwayne Bacon tried to attack the basket with Nikola Vucevic and Khem Birch both clogging the lane. The team looked like it did not know how to run an offense.

Showcase Game?

A deal between the Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs seems pretty unlikely. But the rumor persists. And while the Spurs are first looking to get rid of LaMarcus Aldridge, that does leave some room to add a center to help the team. Aldridge has not been good this year, averaging 13.7 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. San Antonio has used Jakob Poeltl as the starter in his absence. His defense is good but his numbers — 6.5 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game is not so impressive.

The real prize with the Spurs is how many young players have taken the lead with this team. Dejounte Murray averages 15.6 points per game, Keldon Johnson adds 14.0 points per game and Lonnie Walker averages 11.3. Derrick White and Devin Vassell are also coming around.

If the Spurs’ interest in Nikola Vucevic is real, it will cost at least one of these young players. And these players will get a showcase game with DeMar DeRozan out. Is San Antonio really interested in parting with one of these players? Are any of those guys enough for the Magic to make a move? It all feels unlikely.

Back to backs

This is a weird time for back-to-backs. The Magic have a strange one finishing Friday in San Antonio after a game in Miami. They will have another one next week when they play at the New York Knicks on Thursday and then home against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. These are not easy road trips even with a healthy squad and normal practice time during the season.

So far this season, the Magic are 5-6 in all phases of a back-to-back. They have lost both games of a back-to-back just once and have won the second end of a back-to-back three times — the early game against the Washington Wizards, the win over the Charlotte Hornets and the win at Sacramento. That is surprisingly good. So maybe there is hope for this Magic team to sneak a win when the Spurs are not expecting it. They have usually responded well in these games.

Next. Orlando Magic's only way to develop is to compete and win. dark

Then again, past performance is no indicator of future success. Especially in a season like this.