Orlando Magic Play With High Energy and Great Spirit in Preseason Opener
To have a successful season, the Orlando Magic are going to have to play as a unit. Together, using their speed, versatility and cohesiveness, they can compete with anyone. That was apparent on Monday in Boston. Ultimately falling 98-97 shouldn’t take away from the fact that the Magic did what they set out to do and that was to play the game like it was an extension of training camp.
Several deserve recognition, starting with Mo Bamba, who posted 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Cole Anthony picked up where he left off at the end of last season, finishing with 16 points, six rebounds and six assists. Moe Wagner, who re-signed with the Magic over the summer, also had 16 points. Each scoring 10 points, Wendell Carter Jr. and Gary Harris were the other two who scored in double figures.
Each making their NBA debuts (not including summer league of course), Jalen Suggs recorded nine points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks and Franz Wagner had three points, two rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal. Guarded by Marcus Smart most of his time on the floor, Suggs hustled for every loose ball, made several sharp passes, knocked down a couple of deep 3-point tries, and raced back on defense to block and/or deflect a couple shots/passes away.
The backend of their bench on the floor, the Magic were unable to hold off the Celtics in the closing stages. After Admiral Schofield buried a 3-pointer with 1:09 left to extend Orlando’s lead to five, Boston reeled off seven straight points, with Romeo Langford burying a go-ahead triple with 14.2 seconds remaining. Ignas Brazdeikis missed a near 30-foot three as time expired.
Out for Orlando were Jonathan Isaac (left knee), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle) and Chuma Okeke (right hip). The only player for Boston on the injury report was Juwan Morgan (left hamstring).
Which Eastern Conference tier are the Celtics in? Is it the one with the Bucks, Nets and Heat at the top? Or are they a notch or two below? Until the Ben Simmons situation gets figured out, we don’t know where the Sixers belong. The Hawks after their conference finals run last year could make another big jump. Personnel wise, Boston should have enough to at least be in the conversation for an NBA championship. But are Smart and Dennis Schroder good enough playmakers and shooters? Could the lack of floor spacing with Robert Williams at center hinder them? Will any of their other young players such as Aaron Nesmith, Langford and Payton Pritchard make a major impact?
Quote of the Night
“I thought we did a great job. I thought early, it took everybody a couple minutes to kind of get (comfortable). I know for me especially, just to get the jitters out first time playing in front of a crowd at a game in about a year, a year and a half. First NBA game, things like that. Once we got comfortable, especially in that second half, late in the first and then in the second half especially the ball was moving. We were hitting all our cues. Offensively and defensively, we did a great job tonight…Great night. A lot of learning points. A lot of good takeaways.” - Suggs
The Magic now fly down to New Orleans where they will take on the Pelicans on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Zion Williamson will not be available this preseason after having foot surgery. He is expected back for the start of the regular season, however. Like the Magic with Jamahl Mosley, the Pelicans have a new head coach in Willie Green, who finished his playing career with the Magic in the 2014-15 season.