5 interesting questions about the magic of Orlando for opening night

1. Who will start the opening night?

The Orlando Magic featured a different starting five in each of their four preseason games. The San Antonio Spurs, meanwhile, have had the same starting five in three of their five exhibition games. Suppose the Spurs roll with this unit of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Doug McDermott and Jakob Poeltl. The Magic could counter with a larger roster including both Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr., featured in each of their last two preseason games, including against Spurs on October 10. If so, Carter’s versatility will be tested. Jalen Suggs, on track to play after a stomach virus ruled him out in Orlando’s final preseason game against Boston, Gary Harris and Terrence Ross were the other three starters in that game against San Antonio.

2. Key statistics to watch?

In the preseason, Magic opponents averaged just 35.5 points in the paint, an NBA low. The Spurs, meanwhile, gave up 48.8 points in the paint, ranked 26th. Conversely, San Antonio was the best in the league at limiting quick break points, dropping just 9.8 per game. Orlando placed 20th in this category. The strong point of the Magic is to protect the rim. Spurs’ specialty is slowing down the game. Who will do a better job capitalizing on their main strength?

3. How many “bell moments” will the Magic have?

This blue bell affixed to a corner wall of the Magic training ground at the Amway Center will be coming back a lot throughout the season. It sounds during team practices whenever a player performs a “winning game” such as picking up a charge, blocking a shot, deflecting a pass, or diving on the ground for a loose ball. Whenever the Magic enters the field and perhaps even more on the road playing in hostile environments, he will need to accumulate many of those “bell moments” to keep his energy and spirit alive.

4. How well will the Magic shoot the long ball?

It went a bit under the radar, but the Magic shot the ball well in the 3-point preseason. They knocked down 36.6% of their three, who placed seventh in the league. A bit odd, though, is that they struggled with their 3-point corner shot, usually where teams get the best downtown looks. They only managed seven of their 22 attempts at the 3-point corners. This will be the key all year round for the Magic to hit those hits at a relatively high percentage. It’s not much of a surprise, but the only Orlando player who thrived shooting corners was Ross, the three-way team manager making two of the past three seasons.

5. What kind of impact will the two Magic rookies have on their regular season debut?

It all starts with their defense. The more Suggs and Franz Wagner play with energy and intensity on this side, the more the Magic has the chance to win. Wagner led the team in the pre-season in interceptions. Suggs placed second on the block team, unique for a guard. The offense for both will come with time, patience, and a lot of hard work. Right off the bat, however, they can make a huge impact with their defensive instincts, versatility, restlessness and passion.

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Margarita B. Bittner

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