Pregame: What to Watch For, Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs
The Orlando Magic are on a mini road trip. The team will play their first back to back game of the season in San Antonio. How will they respond to the second game in two nights?
Coach Frank Vogel elected to rest a few of his players last night against the Dallas Mavericks. The Magic played Dallas just five days prior so it was the perfect opportunity to rest some players. After taking the night off the Orlando Magic will have the four starters who rested last night available to play in San Antonio. The only starter not to rest last night was Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic will get a break tonight which will allow the Magic to get a look at Bismack Biyombo in the starting role.
The San Antonio Spurs have always been a half-court offensive team. They like to slow the game down find matchups to exploit. The Orlando Magic have found much success speeding up the pace of the game and winning in transition. On paper, the Magic outmatch the Spurs in athleticism and will do well to make this game a track meet. With Nikola Vucevic out of the lineup, it will be a little easier to run the court. The combination of Biyombo and Khem Birch at Center are better at being rim runners and getting out in transition. This game against the Spurs will test the will of the Magic. Whichever team can impose their style of play on the other should come away with the victory.
Jonathon Simmons will get an early opportunity to play against his former team tonight. Simmons had some spectacular performances with the Spurs in the post-season. When the time came to negotiate another contract both sides agreed that it was best for Simmons to move on. Simmons wanted a bigger role and a more flexible situation to showcase what he can do. With this being Simmons first game against his old squad we can expect him to go a little harder to let them know what they missed out on. Last night in Dallas Simmons played a great game and finished with 19 points. The second game of a back to back might be tough but Simmons has never backed down from a challenge.
Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon and Bismack Biyombo sat out last nights game in Dallas for rest, no injury concerns. Getting back on the court tonight these three will be fresh and ready to go. Gordon has been a standout this preseason and will look to continue that consistency. Gordon’s defense has been a staple of his game since he came into the league. It looks like his offensive production has finally caught up. A highlight waiting to happen, Gordon will be fresh tonight flying down the court on transition and catching lobs in traffic. On the assisting end of those lobs will likely be Payton. The two have great chemistry as they have played many years together even prior to being drafted by Orlando. Many believe the key to unlocking Payton’s game is curing his jump shot. While having a respectable jump shot is a great idea in today’s game, it is more feasible to perfect the skills that are present. For Payton that is distributing the ball and playing defense. The night off gave Payton a full game to see things from the bench and take note of what could be better from him. Look for the fresh legs of the Magic to run like crazy.