San Antonio doesn’t have a great history of last-ditch home-stands in the month of March, but that’s where the Spurs find themselves in this snake-bitten season, playing six straight games at the AT&T Center over the next 11 days. Likely at stake: a 20-season run of making the postseason, with reeling San Antonio now on the outside looking in.
The good news? The Spurs have still been one of the league’s best teams at home. The better news? Kawhi Leonard could come back as early as Thursday. Somewhere in between, maybe? They kick things off against the Orlando Magic, who have lost 11 of their last 13 and are comfortably in the race for the number-one pick.
In what could be a bad omen for both teams then, Aaron Gordon might be returning for Orlando after going through concussion protocol last week. The team’s leading scorer can be a handful on the wing and brings some help on the boards, an area where the Magic rank among the worst in the league.
There’s a timeline out there where the Spurs go 5-1 and breathe new life into their 2018 playoff chances, but there are others in which the doom that’s come over them lately doesn’t abate, and fans turn their attention to the NCAA Tournament to begin scouting potential picks in the early teens. We could have an idea of which narrative we’re in for after tonight.
San Antonio Spurs (37-30) vs. Orlando Magic (20-47)
March 13, 2018 | 7:30 pm CDT
Watch: FSSW; Listen: 1200 AM WOAI
Spurs injuries: Kawhi Leonard (quad)
Magic injuries: Evan Fournier (knee), Aaron Gordon (concussion), Terrence Ross (knee)
All rested up for the SEGABABA
Manu Ginobili and LaMarcus Aldridge both sat out last night’s loss in Houston and, while Aldridge’s absence was attributed to an actual injury, he’s still expected to suit up tonight in what is another must-win for the 10th-seeded Spurs.
Aldridge was just about the only thing working for San Antonio in its last meeting with Orlando, a 37-point drubbing in Florida at the beginning of the season, and the team will once again need his size and scoring inside against big bodies like Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo.
Keeping an eye on Super Mario
Many fans have a pet list of those misfit players on other teams they think might flourish in their favorite team’s system. Mario Hezonja, a former lottery pick whose option was not picked up by the Magic this season, is one of those guys for me.
It only gets harder from here
The Magic players will compete tonight, but make no mistake: this is a team that wants as many ping pong balls as possible in the next month, and Spurs fans should expect a win.
Moving forward, though, a new gauntlet is laid out, with the last 14 games against 12 potential playoff teams plus a Lakers squad that has looked vastly improved as of late. It would be nice to see a certain tone set tonight that the Spurs can carry over through this home-stand, and beyond.
Vegas line: Spurs by 9.5.
Game prediction: Spurs by 10.
For the Magic fans’ perspective, visit Orlando Pin Striped Post.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed