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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs @ Orlando Magic

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Can the Silver and Black climb back to .500 in a crucial SEGABABA?

Orlando Magic vs. San Antonio Spurs Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

After a season-high five-game losing streak sent the Spurs spiraling below .500 for the first time since January, San Antonio notched a much-needed dub as they upset the Mavericks behind a last-second go-ahead bucket from DeMar DeRozan. And with the good guys immediately hitting the road for a SEGABABA with the Magic, they won’t have much time to celebrate the end of their recent skid.

Luckily for the Silver and Black, they won’t be the only ones with weary legs as Orlando also participated in a tough tilt with the Milwaukee Bucks less than 24 hours ago. Not only will coach Popovich and crew have the luxury of playing an NBA bottom feeder, but they’ll have the benefit of taking them on while they’re at less than full strength, which should give them a prime opportunity to build some momentum.

San Antonio Spurs (25-26) @ Orlando Magic (17-36)

April 12, 2021 | 7:00 PM CST

Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Keita Bates-Diop (Questionable — Hamstring), Trey Lyles (Out — Ankle) Gorgui Dieng (Out — Shoulder)

Magic Injuries: Jonathan Isaac (Out — Knee), Markelle Fultz (Out — Knee), Karim Mane (Game Time Decision — Hamstring), Otto Porter Jr. (Out — Foot), Chuma Okeke (Game Time Decision — Hip), Mo Bamba (Game Time Decision — Hip)

What to Watch For

  • The Spurs are 2-6 in SEGABABAs this season, but Orlando shouldn’t put up too much resistance on Monday night. The Magic have shifted their focus towards player development, and improving their lottery odds for the stacked 2021 draft class seems to be in their best interest. And after moving franchise cornerstones Nikola Vicevic, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier at the trade deadline last month, Terrence Ross, Chuma Okeke, Mo Bamba, and Wendell Carter Jr. have been left to pick up the slack. Of course, even the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers blew out San Antonio a week ago, so don’t automatically write this matchup down as a win. That said, with Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz, and Otto Porter Jr. indefinitely on the injury report, Gary Harris and R.J. Hampton still learning the system, and Cole Anthony returning from a lengthy rib rehab, the circumstances aren’t in Orlando’s favor.
  • As I mentioned in my most recent WWL, San Antonio’s hyper-compacted schedule doesn’t provide their veterans with sufficient rest for consistent production. Need proof? Look no further than Patty Mills and Rudy Gay’s shooting statistics since the All-Star Break. The pair of bench scorers have gone a combined 132-of-337 (39.2%) from the field over their last 19 games, and both look like they could use a day off. Devin Vassell logged his second DNP of the season against the Mavericks, and Luka Samanic has struggled to find minutes since his brief stint at the beginning of March. PATFO undoubtedly have a successful process for molding young draft picks into solid NBA players. However, the Spurs are at the point where a win or loss is the difference between a probable first-round exit as an eighth seed or a late lottery pick, so what do they have to lose by shaking things up when one of the vets isn’t playing well?
  • Although San Antonio has seen tons of ups and downs across their roster since April rolled around, DeMar DeRozan has been a steadying presence on the offensive end. The four-time All-Star is averaging 25.3 points per game at an efficient 50% clip this month and put forth some late-game heroics versus Dallas. DeRozan is far from a perfect fit as the undisputed top scoring option in the modern NBA and less than satisfactory as a defender but is often criminally underrated by basketball fans. Regardless of where you stand on how the Spurs should go about reshaping this team, it’s difficult to imagine where they would be in the standings if DeRozan didn’t pick up his player option this summer.
  • Let’s talk about Dejounte Murray for a hot second. His year-to-year development has been nothing short of astonishing, and he’s made incredible strides amid a career season. The fourth-year floor general improved his numbers in almost every category, notably improving his restricted area finishing while dishing out more assists and drastically cutting down his turnovers. Dejounte dropped 25-5-5 with four steals on Sunday, and with a depleted depth chart, the Magic shouldn’t have many answers for him if they devote their resources to stopping DeMar DeRozan. Murray is posting near-All-Star statistics of 18.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.4 steals per game on 49.5% shooting over his last seven outings. If the stringy point guard can maintain this production for the remainder of the regular season, he could become a darkhorse candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year.

For the Magic fans’ perspective, 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.