5 Interesting Orlando Magic Questions for Opening Night
1. Who will start on opening night?
The Orlando Magic featured a different starting five in each of their four preseason games. The San Antonio Spurs, on the other hand, had the same starting five in three of their five exhibition games. Let’s assume the Spurs roll with that unit of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Doug McDermott and Jakob Poeltl. The Magic could counter with a bigger lineup that includes both Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr., featured in each of their final two preseason contests, including against the Spurs on Oct. 10. If that is the case, Carter’s versatility will be tested. Jalen Suggs, on track to play after a stomach virus sidelined him in Orlando’s final preseason game against Boston, Gary Harris and Terrence Ross were the three other starters in that game against San Antonio.
2. Key stats to watch?
In the preseason, the Magic’s opponents averaged just 35.5 points in the paint, an NBA low. The Spurs, meanwhile, gave up 48.8 points in the paint, ranked 26th. Conversely, San Antonio was the best in the league at limiting fast break points, giving up only 9.8 of them per game. Orlando ranked 20th in that category. The Magic’s forte is protecting the rim. The Spurs’ specialty is slowing the game down. Who will do a better job capitalizing on their main strength?
3. How many “bell moments” will the Magic have?
That blue bell affixed to a corner wall of the Magic’s practice court at Amway Center is going to come up a lot throughout the season. It gets rung during team practices any time a player makes a “winning play” such as taking a charge, blocking a shot, deflecting a pass, or diving on the floor for a loose ball. Every time the Magic take the court and maybe even more so on the road while playing in hostile environments, they are going to have to amass many of these “bell moments” to keep their energy and spirit up.
4. How well will the Magic shoot the long ball?
It went a little under the radar, but the Magic shot the ball well in the preseason from 3-point range. They knocked down 36.6 percent of their threes, which ranked seventh in the league. Kind of strange about it, though, is that they struggled with their corner 3-point shooting, usually where teams get the best looks from downtown. They hit just seven of their 22 attempts from the 3-point corners. It’s going to be key all year for the Magic to hit these shots at a relatively high percentage. Not really a surprise, but the one Orlando player that thrived shooting in the corners was Ross, the team leader in threes made two of the last three seasons.
5. What kind of impact will the Magic’s two rookies make in their regular season debuts?
It all starts with their defense. The more energy and intensity Suggs and Franz Wagner play with on that end, the greater the chance the Magic have of winning. Wagner led the team in the preseason in steals. Suggs ranked second on the squad in blocks, unique for a guard. The offense for both will come with time, patience, and a lot of hard work. Right out of the gate, though, they can make a huge impact with their defensive instincts, versatility, hustle, and passion.