The Orlando Magic face one of the toughest tests of their early season when they visit the streaking San Antonio Spurs, winners of 10 straight games, tonight at AT&T Center. Since losing to the Miami Heat on the second night of the season, Orlando has gone 8-2, but has yet to beat a powerhouse team. Part of that is a function of the Magic's soft early schedule, which started with 8 of their first 11 games at home and no opponents of note, but the fact remains: Orlando's winning, but not against great competition.
The Spurs have faced a similarly friendly opening schedule, to be sure, but I don't think anyone could have predicted they'd open the year on an 11-1 tear with star center Tim Duncan averaging just 13.7 points and 9.6 boards while shooting 48.2 percent from the floor. The pieces around Duncan have picked up their play, with the starting backcourt of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili averaging 39.1 points per game. After a horrid first season in San Antonio, Richard Jefferson is enjoying a renaissance, scoring 16.3 per game on an eye-popping 68.2 percent True Shooting.
Additionally, San Antonio has changed its style, picking up the pace while increasing its efficiency, a rare feat for any team. The Spurs are averaging 3.5 more possessions per game, making them the 7th-fastest team in the league, yet also rank second in offensive efficiency. The Magic struggled to contain the Spurs in their last visit to San Antonio, with Ginobili popping off for 43 points in a big Spurs victory. Quentin Richardson and Mickael Pietrus will draw that unenviable assignment tonight, with Vince Carter cross-matching to defend Jefferson, his former Nets teammate, reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.
San Antonio, quite obviously, is a tough cover offensively, and its defense still ranks in elite territory. The Magic have a very tough task ahead of them. The Spurs don't have many weaknesses, on either end of the court. It'll likely take a great showing from beyond the three-point arc for Orlando to pull out this win.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|9-3 (3-1 road) |
|11-1 (6-1 home) |
|November 22nd, 2010|
|FSN Florida / NBA TV|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Tony Parker|
|Vince Carter||SG||Manu Ginobili|
|Quentin Richardson||SF||Richard Jefferson|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||DeJuan Blair|
|Dwight Howard||C||Tim Duncan|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|92.7 (17th)||Pace||95.2 (7th)|
|105.5 (T-19th)||ORtg||112.2 (2nd)|
|97.4 (1st)||DRtg||102.2 (6th)|