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Magic vs. Celtics preview: The preseason opener

The youth movement in Orlando begins

2021-22 Orlando Magic Media Day Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Excited for Orlando Magic basketball? Jalen Suggs sure is...

Suggs’ career gets off to an unofficial start Monday when he takes the court for the Magic’s preseason opener against take the Boston Celtics.

“Super-excited to be starting up my rookie year,” Suggs told reporters. “It’s something you dream of. So, this is another one of those first-time moments that you got to look forward to and you just got to take in. It only happen one time, the first time, and I’m excited.”

There is perhaps a little extra new-season excitement surrounding the Magic, even if it’s not projected to include many victories. With a roster than features nine rotation players between the ages of 20 and 24, plus a new coaching staff, the team opens the season with the rebuild button having been fully pressed for the first time in a long time. The youth movement commences in Orlando.

There is a clear direction, plenty of opportunity, and a clear priority on raw talent being developed and nurtured.

But also plenty of questions.

While Suggs, Cole Anthony and R.J. Hampton all participated in Summer League, as well as new head coach Jamahl Mosley, in preseason we’ll begin to get answers.

The most crucial of which is what the rotations and combinations will look like with such a guard-heavy roster that promises three-guard sets to help compensate for the lack of depth at small forward.

“In such an age of position-less basketball, you have to look at different combinations that are very unique,” Mosley told our Aaron Goldstone at Magic Media Day. “Things that some defenses can’t cover, and offenses that force teams to figure out what you are doing. So, there will be different looks that we throw out there. It’s probably too early to tell exactly what those lineups will look like, but we have options to see which ones we can (ultimately) throw out there.”

Then there is the balancing act between 22-year-old Wendell Carter Jr. and 23-year-old Mo Bamba, two centers playing for extensions. And eventually will come answers regarding the health of Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz, both of whom will not be ready for the start of the regular season. The Magic on Monday will also be without Chuma Okeke (bruised hip), and Michael Carter-Williams (ankle).

They’ll be facing a Celtics team that underwent a regime change with Brad Stevens heading to the front office and first-time head coach Ime Udoka taking his place. Gone is Kemba Walker. Back is Al Horford. Firmlin in place are Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, as the Celtics look to solidify their starting five.

It’s the first of four preseason games for the Magic:

Monday at Boston, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday at New Orleans, 8 p.m.

Sunday vs. San Antonio, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 13 vs. Boston 7 p.m.

The Magic tip-off the regular season on Oct. 20 in San Antonio.


Who: Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics

When: Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Where: TD Garden - Boston, Massachusetts

Line: Celtics -8, Over/Under 213.5

TV: None (David Steele and Jeff Turner have the call on 96.9 The Game)