With the working week winding to an end, let’s check the pulse of all things pinstriped.
Who won the week that was?
At first glance this might seem like a controversial pick, but I’m giving the gong to Jalen Suggs. Despite the fact that he missed one of the week’s three games (and exited another early), it’s hard not to identify his post-game interview after the Magic toppled the Knicks as the absolute high point of the team’s week. It takes a particularly brave and bold soul to strap on a headset, know that the television feed is live, apologize in advance, and then still confidently point out to the world that you are, indeed, a bad MFer.
“Mo Wagner came up to me… and said, excuse my language, you’re a bad motherfucker.” -@jalensuggs— David Baumann (@DavidBaumannORL) November 18, 2021
As Magic postgame interviews become more and more MUST WATCH TV @BallyMagic @OrlandoMagic pic.twitter.com/fMKqWM8Ux5
With a smidge more seriousness though, Suggs’ second half was perhaps the strongest stretch of play that the rookie has put together through the early stages of this season. After a scoreless first half he went 5-7 from the field, nailing all three of his long-range attempts on his way to 13 points. Elsewhere on the boxscore, 4 assists, 3 steals and a block rounded out his personal tally, speaking to the two-way impact that the franchise is hoping he will one day embody. It was ultimately just a glimpse, sure, but the Magic faithful have to be happy with what they saw from Suggs as he helped to close the door on the Knicks for a second time this season.
Side note: a close second? Cole ‘BING BONG’ Anthony.
The upcoming slate
This week’s schedule: at Nets (tonight); at Bucks (Sat); at Bucks (Mon); vs Hornets (Wed)
Oh boy. Orlando is facing an absolutely brutal schedule over the next seven days, with tilts against the reigning champs, this year’s Eastern Conference favorites, and an upstart side currently riding a four-game winning streak. Oh, and three of the four games are on the road, to boot. It’s a tough slate for any side, let alone the cellar-dwelling Magic.
As such, I think it’s fair for Central Floridians to expect some pain in the very near future. Even with the Bucks mired in an early malaise, the Magic seem to have caught them at the wrong time; the cavalry is returning, and they’ll be keen to start righting the ship as the game count ticks up. We’ve already seen the buzzsaw brilliance of Brooklyn up close this season, while the Hornets have also previously gotten the best of Orlando despite a spirited resistance. Toppling any of these three over the next four games figures to be unlikely.
The crystal ball says …
0-4. The Magic have been averaging a win a week over the season’s first month, but it feels like this is when that (admittedly underwhelming) bubble bursts.
The next week is an important one for …
Wendell Carter Jr. The big man has been good for the Magic so far, but it seems that recently he’s making a habit of starting fast but finishing ‘in absentia’. Against the Knicks he had 5 shot attempts in the first quarter and then just 6 more the rest of the way. Against the Hawks it was 4 in the first and 4 over the final three quarters. Against Brooklyn it was 5 in the opening term and then just 2 more attempts for the rest of the game. He’s been a featured component of the team’s opening minutes, but a seeming afterthought from that point on.
Now, some of this absolutely has to do with the game flow, particularly the Nets game, which was well and truly over by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. But the eye test suggests that the Magic simply need to do a better job of keeping WCJ involved as the game winds on. Considering the propensity he’s shown for hot starts it would seemingly be in Orlando’s best interest to keep him heavily involved.
A figure for thought
2 — the number of games this season in which the Magic haven’t found themselves, at some point, down double digits.