The Orlando Magic open a critical four-game road trip as they take on the San Antonio Spurs in a must-win game for the team’s still fleeting postseason hopes.
Orlando Magic (28-40) at San Antonio Spurs (17-50)
Time/TV: 8 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
WATCH MAGIC-SPURS ON FUBO TV
FOLLOW LIVE: @OMAGICDAILY
Line: Magic by 5
Tickets: $8-$2,903 on StubHub
Season Series: Magic 133, Spurs 113 in Orlando on Dec. 23; Tonight in San Antonio
|Pace||Off. Rtg.||Def. Rtg.||eFG%||O.Reb.%||TO%||FTR|
The Orlando Magic’s season is not quite on the line during this four-game road trip. But any talk of the postseason could easily get snuffed out with a bad road trip. And certainly, there are bigger tests ahead. But the biggest test is always the one in front of you. And young teams always struggle with the games lower on the marquee.
There may not be any game lower on the marquee right now than the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are squarely racing to the bottom and judging by their injured list — Jeremy Sochan and Keldon Johnson are both QUESTIONABLE.
This is a game that is purely about keeping your attention and doing your job. The Spurs will pounce on turnovers and look to push the pace. So if the Magic stay disciplined offensively and stay smart in their attack — and add in defense to boot — then they have a good chance to win running away. Even if Franz Wagner sits out (he is QUESTIONABLE with the sprained ankle he suffered Saturday).
3 Keys To Watch
This game is going to be all about limiting mistakes and being focused on the task at hand. That is not always an easy thing to do for such a young team like the Orlando Magic. And they have been up and down with their turnovers all year — and mostly down.
The Magic are 25th in the league in turnover rate at 15.1 percent. They give up 18.6 points off turnovers per game, 26th in the league. Turnovers are not essential to wins — the Magic have a 15.5 percent turnover rate in wins — but they do play a role as teams score only 17.9 points off turnovers per game in the Magic’s win.
This is an area the team has to continue improving. Orlando has to limit mistakes because turnovers disrupt the team’s overall offensive rhythm. There is no denying that — just look at how the Miami Heat used them to get back into the game in the second and fourth quarters.
The San Antonio Spurs though are one of the worst teams in the league with turnovers at a 15.2 percent turnover rate and 19.2 points allowed off turnovers per game. The Magic have to pounce on mistakes just as much as they have to prevent them.
The big concern during the homestand was how much the Orlando Magic’s defense seemed to fall off a cliff without Wendell Carter. In the three games he missed, the Magic’s defensive rating shot up to worse than 120 points per 100 possessions.
Against the Miami Heat? Carter’s presence was very clear and evident.
Orlando had a 103.6 defensive rating in the game. The Magic had a 104.5 defensive rating with Carter on the floor. This was the Magic’s best defensive game in some time. And a really impressive showing for Orlando overall.
It just continues to show the Magic can be a very dangerous defensive team when they get themselves all together. And how essential good defense is to covering up many of the Magic’s youthful flaws.
What was perhaps most encouraging in the Orlando Magic’s homestand was how strong the team was offensively. Even without Wendell Carter, the Magic’s offense took a big step forward posting 117.4 points per 100 possessions in the last four games. That is 10 points per 100 possessions more than the San Antonio Spurs averaged over the last four games.
That 117.4 includes a 115.6 offensive rating effort against the defensively-minded Miami Heat on Saturday. That was a game where Wendell Carter scored 27 points in his return game. This offense is humming right now.
It can thank Paolo Banchero for breaking out of his rookie doldrums and Jalen Suggs’ sudden emergence as a shooter to give the team this sudden burst. Banchero is averaging 22.3 points per game and shooting 43.8 percent from beyond the arc in his last four games. Suggs is averaging 12.8 points per game on 47.5/41.2/85.7 shooting splits.
All encouraging signs for two shooters who were struggling a ton.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.