After Friday’s disheartening loss to the Clippers, Steve Clifford said that he believes the Magic are “good enough to be one of the stories in the league.”
“But we have to have great attitude, great readiness and great fight and we had none of that (against the Clippers),” Clifford said.
The Magic will need to have all of those characteristics against the Spurs on Sunday if they want to start rewriting their story before the season spirals any further out of control. So far, the pages written about the Magic’s season have centered around subjects like poor shooting, dreadful offense and blow out losses.
Their next chapter comes in San Antonio, where in the Magic’s 30-year history, they have gone just 25-5. The Spurs (6-2), however, are coming off their first back-to-back of the season after a 109-95 win over the Pelicans. The Spurs duo of LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan each played about 40 minutes in the game, so knowing Gregg Popovich and his propensity for resting his key players, it would come as no big surprise if one or both are limited or even given the night off against the Magic.
The Magic also may be forced to use a different starting lineup for the first time this season if Jonathan Isaac is unable to play because of yet another sprained ankle.
.@OrlandoMagic F Jonathan Isaac (sprained right ankle) said X-Rays were negative. Admitted he’s in pain and not sure as to when he can return.— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) November 3, 2018
The favorite to join the first unit, given that former Spur Jonathon Simmons is questionable with a wrist injury and the Mo Bamba/Nikola Vucecic pairing has so far been ineffective, would be either Terrence Ross or Wes Iwundu, who played 31 minutes on Friday.
The change could be a blessing in disguise for a Magic team that has lost four straight games and is in desperate need of an offensive spark. With scoring up league-wide, the Magic have failed to reach 100 points in each of their previous three games and own the league’s worst offensive rating at 99.0 points per 100 possessions and the worst shooting percentage at 41.1 percent.
The Spurs, with a pace of 99.53 (sixth slowest in the league) play at a similar tempo to the Magic (100.81, 11th slowest in the league). But they also own an offensive rating of 111.4 (10th best in the NBA) thanks in part to an efficient offense that protects the ball well and is shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from three (sixth best in the league, though the Spurs take the fewest threes at 22.4 per game).
The two teams split the season series last year, with the Magic leading by as many as 36 points in an early season 114-87 win in Orlando for their first victory over the Spurs since 2010.
Who: Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs
Where: AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas
When: 7 p.m. Eastern Time
TV: Fox Sports Florida
Line: Spurs -8