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Preseason Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Orlando Magic

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Spurs basketball unofficially returns on Saturday with the first exhibition game against the visiting Orlando Magic.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs-Media Day Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

There are things we know and things we don’t about the 2019-20 San Antonio Spurs, but the one that most fans and observers can more or less agree on is that their first structured basketball game will take place this Saturday at the AT&T Center. The Spurs will face the Magic tomorrow at 7:30 pm in a battle of last season’s 7 seeds, although the information currently available — including the recently released broadcast schedule — suggests no broadcast will be available.

But because a basketball contest will still likely occur (I’ll be there to witness it) and because there are still many compelling questions surrounding how this team will begin the season, fans should be curious about how tomorrow goes. Let’s set aside existential paradoxes aside and look at some interesting takeways it may provide.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Orlando Magic

October 5, 2019 | 7:30 PM CT

Watch: none | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: none (!!!)

Magic Injuries: Chuma Okeke (knee — out), Melvin Frazier (leg — out)

A first look at a starting lineup and rotations

Beyond DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, it’s still anyone’s guess as to what the Spurs’ starting five will look like to begin this season, and Saturday could offer an early peek into how Gregg Popovich views this roster.

Much of this is based around the return of Dejounte Murray and whether Pop would prefer to immediately ease him back into things while retaining a backcourt of Derrick White and Bryn Forbes, or if the once-anointed starting point guard will resume his role from the drop.

There’s also the matter of whether he’ll want to begin games starting Jakob Poeltl alongside Aldridge. While the team’s shortage of options at the 5 and the duo’s poor net rating sharing the floor would suggest a deeper commitment to small ball is in store, Pop may like the defensive boost that two traditional bigs provide while working in other new pieces. Also consider the fact that the Magic have one of the bigger frontcourts in the league, and there’s reason to believe what we see on Friday may be somewhat circumstantial.

How’s Dejounte looking?

One thing that’ll be a bit easier to tell is the state of the rehabilitated Murray, who spent all of last season on the shelf recovering from an ACL injury. Early rumblings from teammates and videos from offseason pickup games have been promising, but seeing him run the floor against other NBA players in this setting will be another thing altogether. Given his importance for next season and the long-term outlook for San Antonio, it’s fair to assume every detail of his performance will be carefully scrutinized.

The new and improved Markelle Fultz

On the other side of the floor is a player who’ll be even more under the microscope on a national scale. The 2017 first overall pick-turned reclamation project, Fultz has famously battled with injuries and unclear issues surrounding his AWOL jumper, leading to a trade last season from Philadelphia for former Spur Jonathon Simmons and two mediocre draft picks (a top-20 protected, plus a second-rounder). This will be the first chance for curious basketball fans to see whether he has returned to form or will continue down the path of bust.


For the Magic fans’ perspective, please visit Orlando Pinstriped Post.

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 if you don’t have a radio around.

Also, since this game won’t be broadcast, the rules on posting “available” streams will be relaxed for the time being.