Watching the Spurs these days is almost formulaic. You pray that they won’t get off to yet another slow start, only for it to happen (again). The defense stinks and the starters can’t put the ball through the hoop at all. Then they tease you, stringing together possessions that show that just maybe this thing is going to be OK once they figure it all out, only to rip the carpet right out from underneath you. They are either hard-fought wins or frustrating losses that leave you with more questions than answers.
San Antonio desperately needs to start answering these questions. They have a chance to at least build on the good things that they have displayed and hopefully get back to .500 tonight against an Orlando Magic team that made the playoffs last season, but has gotten off to a poor start in the East. They’ll need to come out showing a lot more desperation than they’ve showcased at times so far throughout the first 11 games of the season.
San Antonio Spurs (5-6) at Orlando Magic (4-7)
November 15, 2019 | 6:00 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs injuries: None
Magic injuries: None
Could Dejounte Murray jump start the starters?
The 5-man unit that starts the game for the Spurs is also the line-up that gets the most time on the court together, averaging a full 12 minutes of on-court time per game. It is currently a -1.1 in plus-minus, among the worst line up on the team through the early goings of this season and playing a big role in helping the Spurs get behind big extremely early.
Dejounte Murray fully finding his legs could be the difference maker for this group, if it is indeed the one Pop decides to roll with more often than not going forward. He appears at times hesitant to look for his spots in the half court and when he does, he often tries to force a drive to the hoop against a packed paint rather than take a jump shot.
The jump shot, which has clearly improved in aesthetics, has yet to translate into an actual on-court weapon. Murray is shooting just 29% on all shots that have come away from the rim (14/47) and is shooting just 2/10 from beyond the arc. As he continues to see an uptick in minutes and remain confidence in those legs, it will be important to see Murray also increase his aggressiveness in more ways than just driving the basketball. The effectiveness of the starting line-up could depend on it.
The state of the Orlando Magic and the importance of not looking past them
The Magic have had a rough start to the season. They sport some really good players that rarely get shine in guys like Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Nikola Vucevic. Former #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz is here as well, trying to truly get his career started after a bizarre two seasons in Philadelphia.
Orlando is among the worst teams in the league in various statistics, among them being points scored and both 3-point shots made and 3-point shot percentages. They do, however, sport a top 5 defensive rating and average nearly 7 blocks per game. The Spurs have had success putting up points this season regardless of the opponent, but they’ll need to make sure they don’t let Orlando look like a top 5 offense as well. That means they need to come ready to play and finally begin to answer some of the questions they have had so far this season.
Vegas Odds: Magic -3.5, O/U 212
For the Magic fans’ perspective, visit Orlando Pinstriped Posts.
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.