uspw_6682204

Gameday Q&A: Spurs vs. Magic

The San Antonio Spurs are hosting the Orlando Magic tonight for the second meeting of the season and first at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.

The Spurs are struggling as of late and have dropped their last two games against possible playoff opponents. The Magic are going through their own woes this season. Their 19-56 record this season hasn't been a pretty sight, but they are currently in a rebuilding process with a young roster poised to make noise in the NBA for the next years to come. I caught up again with Philip Rossman-Reich of Orlando Magic Daily to discuss this game and what we might expect tonight from both teams.

Jose: What do you think this game will mean to Jacque Vaughn in his first appearance as a head coach against Gregg Popovich?

Philip: I think it will mean a lot to Jacque. The preseason game in Orlando meant something to him and he still seems pretty close with several of the players. What little experience he had as a coach he got with Popovich and the Spurs, and I think he is very appreciative about that.

Vaughn is not going to let the emotions get to him though. He has shown time and time again that he will keep an even keel in his approach to the game and will have that intense focus. He has always been a guy that does not get too fiery and emotional during games. So I would bet he will have his focus on what he wants to get accomplished Wednesday and leave the pleasantries for before and after the game.

Jose: How different is this team with the departure of J.J. Redick?

Philip: That is really hard to say. The Magic definitely lack the same kind of floor spacing they had with Redick out there and Redick did a lot of little things, especially on defense, that kept the team together. His competitiveness was contagious for a lot of the young players.

Since the trade though, the Magic have faced numerous injuries (Arron Afflalo is out for the year with a partial tear of his hamstring and Jameer Nelson is currently out with a sprained ankle) and have shut down veterans Al Harrington, Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu (it seems). Orlando is letting the young players on the roster get their opportunity to play. That was definitely part of the reason the Magic traded J.J. Redick. You will see plenty of Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris tonight. And that is what the Magic want right now. Let these young players take their lumps at the end of this season.Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Jose: What advantage do the Magic have against the struggling Spurs?

Philip: There might still be an element of surprise with this Magic team. A lot of people would suspect that a squad with nothing to play for would roll over and die when facing any large deficit or going through any drought. Orlando though has shown a proclivity to fight. Against Houston on Monday, Orlando was down 25 points and trailed by 18 in the first quarter. The Magic did not get the deficit to single digits until late in the fourth quarter. That is the kind of fight the Magic want to see from this young squad. And that is what you can expect from the Magic moving forward this year.

Jose: Who should the Magic be worried most about on the Spurs?

Philip: Tim Duncan or Tony Parker (whichever of them actually plays in this game). Orlando is still facing a talent and experience deficit against a team like the Spurs and the Spurs should be able to use that to their advantage. The Magic will go through dramatic swings of strong offensive and defensive play throughout a game. Consistency, anchored by these two All Stars, will go a long way to securing an easy win over a 19-win team. The Magic simply do not have the consistency on defense to stop them right now if they are focused.

Jose: What's your prediction for the game?

Philip: I think the Magic will keep it close-ish for a while. The Spurs won't run away with it. Not until the fourth quarter at least. Orlando is going to show that it can fight, but San Antonio after that tough loss to Memphis and prepping for that tilt with Oklahoma City takes care of business with a relatively uneventful 13-point win.

Gameday Q&A: Spurs vs. Magic

The San Antonio Spurs (12-3) are traveling to the Amway Center to go head-to-head with the Orlando Magic tonight (5-8).

The Spurs are on a four game winning streak and coming off tough back to back wins against Toronto in a double overtime thriller and a dominating performance against the winless Washington Wizards. I had the opportunity to talk to Orlando Magic Daily's Philip Rossman-Reich to help get some insight on what we can expect to see from this new look Magic team.

Philip discuss how the Magic are adjusting without Dwight Howard, the sixth man matchup, and more.

Jose: With Orlando at 5-8, how has the team adjusted without Dwight Howard at the center position?

Philip: The adjustment at the center position is still very much a work in progress. Nikola Vucevic has some talent and has some skill but he has not quite gotten to the point where he can consistently use it. Against Boston on Sunday, he sat out most of the second half and all of the tense moments at the end. Orlando is still figuring out what it has in the second-year center. The Magic are not running their offense through the post anymore, to say the least. That has means the Magic are taking much fewer 3-pointers and are struggling to get open 3-pointers. This is a team that has to work incredibly hard offensively to get good looks in the half court. It certainly is a brand new team.

Jose: What Magic player has shown the most improvement so far this season?

Philip: J.J. Redick has impressed me the most this season. We all know he can shoot and he has taken a larger role in the offense. I think most people expected him to be able to handle that. What I do not think anyone expected was for his passing to improve this dramatically. Redick is dishing out 5.0 assists per game and dishing out a 27.0 percent assist rate. Those would both be career highs if he keeps them up. It is very visible though how much Redick has improved as a playmaker this year so far. He is very dialed in and playing very well.

Jose: With the Spurs being thin at the small forward position with injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson, how will San Antonio fare against Orlando with Gary Neal starting at the shooting guard position and Danny Green moving over to starting small forward?

Philip: The Magic tend to go very small with their lineups. With Hedo Turkoglu and Al Harrington out, the Magic are starting rookie Maurice Harkless at the three and play J.J. Redick and Aaron Afflalo on the wings late in games. It is very possible to match up with Orlando then because of this lack of size late and the lack of experience early. Not that teams should sleep on these players. Harkless is out there to provide some energy and learn the game, so he attacks the offensive glass hard and does a good job defensively. Redick and Afflalo are also pretty solid players who know how to execute late in games. Is there an advantage there? I don't know.

Jose: The bench match up pits Manu Ginobili vs. JJ Redick. Who has the advantage between the two?

Philip: Manu is probably the overall better player and he can do more off the dribble than Redick. But if Ginobili is guarding Redick and has to chase him around screens, it could be a long night for Ginobili. Somehow I doubt Gregg Popovich will have him do that when they share the floor. Both teams get a ton of offensive balance and can get scoring from just about anyone on their bench. Ginobili could potentially do a lot more so I give him and the Spurs bench the edge.

Jose: What's your prediction and why?

Philip: I think San Antonio will win. The game should be close through three quarters, but I think San Antonio's size and experience will win out. That is how Boston won in overtime Sunday in Orlando and I have the feeling Orlando will have some of the same problems on the offensive glass. The Magic will continue to play these good teams tight, but they are not quite at the level to win these type of games yet. But it would not surprise me if the Magic keep it tighter even later and eke out a win. Then again, San Antonio could just as easily suffocate the Orlando offense and win this one with ease. This Magic team is still hard to figure out.

Quantcast