Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs (Oct. 20, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Oct 10, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White (4) drives to the basket against Orlando Magic guard Jalen Suggs (4) during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 10, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White (4) drives to the basket against Orlando Magic guard Jalen Suggs (4) during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic tip off their season in San Antonio against the San Antonio Spurs as their new era begins.

Orlando Magic (0-0) at San Antonio Spurs (0-0)

Time/TV: 8:30 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Spurs by 5.5
Tickets: $8-$428 on StubHub
2021 Season Series: Spurs 104, Magic 77 in San Antonio on March 12; Spurs 120, Magic 97 in Orlando on April 12
2022 Season Series: Tonight in San Antonio; Nov. 5 in Orlando

2021 SeasonPaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR
San Antonio99.5110.5112.051.724.311.324.3

OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic have been a lot of things in theory to this point. We have no clue who Jamahl Mosley is as a coach. We have no clue how good Jalen Suggs can be. We have no clue what improvements from preseason were real. The Magic have said throughout training camp they are focused on the task at hand each day and only that day. But they surely had this day circled on their calendar. This is the first game that matters and counts.

The Orlando Magic got a taste of the San Antonio Spurs during the preseason. It was a competitive game for much of it until the Spurs pulled away in the third quarter. Orlando’s starters inched back into the game with San Antonio sitting its better players. But that was preseason. Who knows what was actually real? The Magic will certainly play with a ton of spirit. In a battle of two young teams, that should make for an entertaining watch.

38. 104. 29. Prediction. 99

3 Keys To Watch

Defensive energy

Orlando Magic coach Jamahl Mosley has put a major emphasis on defense throughout training camp. He wants the team’s high-pressure defense to be the team’s backbone. The basic tenets that we can gather about it are being physical on the ball, doubling hard in the paint and scrambling well to keep offenses off balance. He wants the defense to dictate the terms of engagement.

The Magic have taken to this. And they played well defensively too throughout the preseason. They finished the preseason 11th in the league in defensive rating, giving up 102.5 points per 100 possessions. That is a really good number — offenses will get better once the regular season begins. It is the preseason though. So the question is trying to figure out what is real. The Magic’s success will be based on their defensive energy and activity. So just how good this team can be will be determined on that end.

Breaking through the D

Just as important though will be the Orlando Magic’s ability to score. And that remains a huge mystery. For whatever preseason stats are worth (again), the Magic were 26th in the league in offensive rating, scoring 98.0 points per 100 possessions. It is still a fair question to ask where the Magic’s offense is going to come from. That has been a fair question for the team for the last decade.

Orlando will obviously go into this game shorthanded. Chuma Okeke and E’Twaun Moore were added to the injury report with Michael Carter-Williams, Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz. Those are still not fantastic offensive options. And the San Antonio Spurs are still a pretty strong defensive outfit. Gregg Popovich still teaches a strong defensive game. And this game may well turn on who can create turnovers and create offense from their defense.

Jalen Suggs’ debut

All eyes for the Orlando Magic will be on their rookie Jalen Suggs. The fifth overall pick arrived in Orlando with a ton of promise and potential. Fans are eager to see him hit the floor and get these reps on the big stage. Suggs is working his way back from a stomach illness. It is not yet clear if he will start. The Magic’s plan may still be to bring him along slowly.

Next. How Jalen Suggs can win Rookie of the Year. dark

Suggs’ numbers were less than impressive in the preseason — 5.0 points per game and a 27.3-percent field goal percentage. They were also not super impressive in Summer League. But there were still plenty of flashes that shows he will be fine. He was fantastic defensively for such a young player. And he remains a solid passer and rebounder. The scoring will come and no one seems worried. Now that the lights are on, the hope is Suggs will step up to the plate.