Game Preview: Orlando Magic @ San Antonio Spurs

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs host the lottery-bound Orlando Magic as another Florida team rolls into town.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Orlando Magic

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
March 8, 2014, 7:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

That loud noise going on around you is the sound of the masses jumping back on the San Antonio Spurs bandwagon.

People that watch the team on a nightly basis realized that this squad could not be judged with so many injuries to key players in the starting lineup and off of the bench. Most Spurs fans had not yet leapt off of the cliff this season, but there was a perception beginning to build that San Antonio could not beat the other elite teams in the NBA. Now healthy, that myth was dispelled for good on Thursday night when the Spurs chewed up the Miami Heat, 111-87.

San Antonio is starting to play Spurs basketball with the healthy return of Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. Leonard and those funky uniforms (cough, cough) locked down Lebron James in the win and Tim Duncan posted a double-double, outplaying Chris Bosh throughout the contest. The knock on San Antonio this season has been its inability to beat other elite teams, and while that notion probably didn’t ring true within the Spurs locker room, the win had to feel good. If for no other reason than people would stop talking and asking about it.

The win over Miami combined with an Oklahoma City loss has the Spurs just one-half game behind OKC in the Western Conference. San Antonio will try to edge closer and extend its winning-streak to six games with a home-contest against the Orlando Magic. Orlando is limping into this game, posting just a 3-7 record over the last ten games. The Magic have the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 19-44 and are well on their way to collecting a decent amount of ping pong balls for this year’s NBA Draft Lottery, which was the plan of this organization since letting go of Dwight Howard two seasons ago.

Orlando is actually a decent team at home, but the Magic are dreadful on the road. The team is 4-28 on the road this season. Orlando lost to Houston at home on Wednesday in its last game. The Magic are 24th in the league in scoring at 96.5 points a game and San Antonio has proven that it will beat nearly any team on the schedule if it can get to over 100 points. That should be especially true against a Magic team that is prone to long offensive droughts, especially with the second unit. The Magic are 17th in points allowed, 19th in total rebounding and 22nd in assists.

Orlando’s first round draft pick from last summer, Victor Oladipo, has played at times like the best rookie in the league. He set out the Houston loss with a sore ankle and it has not been yet announced if he’ll be ready to go against the Spurs. Jason Maxiell also didn’t play against Houston, but that was ruled a coaching decision. Looking at the Magic roster it just strikes you as a team full of role players. There is talent on the roster, but there are no stars that can step up in big stages and that is one of the reasons Orlando struggles so mightily on the road and in the fourth quarter. Does the offense go through Arron Afflalo? Nikola Vucevic? Tobias Harris? There just aren’t any players on the roster that demand double-teams or defensive adjustments.

Afflalo leads the team with 19.7 points per game, one of five current players that average double-figures for Orlando. Jameer Nelson leads the team in assists and is expected to travel with the team to San Antonio after missing time with an illness. Vucevic may be the brightest piece to the Magic puzzle right now, however, as he is one of the few players in the league averaging a double-double.

Key matchup: The Spurs should be able to light up the Orlando defense with the ball movement that the team has shown since being back to 100 percent. That shouldn’t change against a Magic team that can play undisciplined on both ends of the court. If San Antonio can prevent Orlando from having an incredible night of shooting the Spurs should win this game going away.

Lineups

Starters
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Tiago Splitter
C: Tim Duncan

Key Bench Players
Boris Diaw
Patty Mills
Manu Ginobili


Head Coach
Gregg Popovich

Lineups

Starters
PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: Victor Oladipo
SF: Tobias Harris
PF: Maurice Harkless
C: Nikola Vucevic

Key Bench Players
Arron Afflalo
Jason Maxwell
E'Twaun Moore


Head Coach

Jacque Vaughn


Heat perspective can be found here: Orlando Pinstriped Post

Game Prediction: Spurs by 13.

Line in Vegas: Spurs by 16.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.

Get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment:

Tel: 210-444-5607 | dfarias@attcenter.com

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