The Spurs lost another heartbreaker to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. and now sit at 2-6. So it’s with the worst start in franchise history since 1996-97 that the Silver and Black visit the Orlando Magic for the last meeting of the clubs this season.
Considering that the first contest between these two teams ended in a lopsided victory for San Antonio, you probably wouldn’t have guessed they would sport nearly identical records two weeks later. Yet here we are, with each squad sitting near the bottom of their respective conference.
Losers of six of their last seven games, the Spurs have shown their inexperience plenty of times since their season-opening blowout of Orlando. From late-game debacles to a stagnant half-court offense, San Antonio is still carving out an identity. That said, Dejounte Murray and Devin Vassell have provided a handful of encouraging performances.
Meanwhile the Magic, who appear stuck in a perpetual rebuild as they search for a cornerstone despite routine trips to the lottery, have seen some pleasant surprises. Cole Anthony’s hot start has made him an analytics darling, and Wendell Carter Jr. seems on his way to becoming their next frontcourt stalwart.
There are several high-caliber athletes and microwave scorers on both sides of the court, so at the very least, Friday night should bring an entertaining matchup between these interconference competitors. Win or loss, there will be an abundance of teachable moments to take away from this outing.
San Antonio Spurs (2-6) at Orlando Magic (2-7)
November 5, 2021, | 6:00 PM CT
Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (Out — Foot), Jakob Poeltl (Out — COVID Protocols)
Magic Injuries: Gary Harris (Day-to-Day — Ankle), Jonathan Isaac (Out — ACL), Markelle Fultz (Out — ACL), Michael Carter-Williams (Out — Ankle), E’Twaun Moore (Out — Knee)
What to Watch For:
- How will San Antonio make up for the loss of Jakob Poeltl? Wednesday’s matchup with the Mavericks gave us an idea of what head coach Gregg Popovich is trying to do, personnel-wise, in the absence of Jakob Poeltl. We saw Drew Eubanks and Thaddeus Young play a combined 41 minutes against Dallas, providing a new look for this group on both ends of the floor. San Antonio relied on both bigs to replace Jakob’s production, but it wasn’t enough. While Eubanks is a maximum-effort type of player, he doesn’t match the rim protection or rebounding Poeltl brings on a nightly basis. As for Thad, his size, limited vertical pop, and questionable production as a roll-man have severely limited the Spurs in a few ways. While it isn’t shocking that the Spurs missed Poeltl in his first game on the sidelines, the degree to which Dallas bullied San Antonio’s bigs is a little concerning. The Silver and Black were out-rebounded by 16 boards while allowing Boban Marjanovic and Dwight Powell to shoot 11-of-14 in their latest loss. If the Spurs want to find themselves back in the win column, they must contain Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba, the latter of which has quietly put together a solid stretch to start the year. Bamba and Carter combine for 24.6 points, 19.0 rebounds, and three blocks per game, and it will be worth keeping an eye for how San Antonio makes up for the loss of Jakob Poeltl while attempting to find ways to limit Orlando’s frontcourt duo.
- Can San Antonio stop the Magic’s three-point barrage? The Silver and Black will have their hands full as they look to put away the Magic for the second time this season. Coming into this rematch, Orlando is shooting a solid 35% from beyond the arc, and has several players who can hurt opponents from outside. The Magic marksmen range from guards Cole Anthony and R.J. Hampton to forward Franz Wagner and big man Mo Bamba, all of whom are cashing in from deep at more than 40 percent. San Antonio must defend the perimeter on Friday night, as the Silver and Black can’t afford to lose the three-point battle by any significant margin if they hope to snap their latest losing streak.
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.