Preview and Prediction: San Antonio Spurs vs. Orlando Magic

If the San Antonio Spurs (24-33) are going to make a run at the playoffs, that run needs to begin tonight against the Orlando Magic (27-32). The postseason is still possible for San Antonio but they can’t suffer another disappointing loss — especially at home. As it is, the Spurs have lost two straight games and seven of their last nine.

The Magic are definitely going to put up a fight. They are currently the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and they’ve won three games in a row and five of their last six. That said, all five of those wins were against teams below .500, so while they are playing well, they’re not a juggernaut. In fact, the Spurs are favored to win tonight’s game by four points.

San Antonio’s Playoff Status

As it stands, the Spurs are the 12th seed in the Western Conference. The Sacramento Kings have won four of their last five games to leapfrog the Spurs by percentage points. The tenth seed is the Portland Trail Blazers, a half game ahead of the Spurs and the Kings. The New Orleans Pelicans are the ninth seed, a half game ahead of the Blazers and a game up on the Kings and the Spurs.

Holding onto the eighth seed for now are the Memphis Grizzlies. However, they’ve lost five straight games coming out of the All-Star break, which isn’t too surprising considering they had the NBA’s toughest schedule after the break. To make things more difficult for Memphis, they’ve been playing without Jaren Jackson Jr. due to a knee sprain.

LaMarcus Aldridge Injury Update – Out Again

LaMarcus Aldridge will miss his second straight game due to a right shoulder injury. Originally, the Spurs called it soreness, now they are classifying it as a strain. However, San Antonio isn’t offering any more details regarding how long the big man is going to be sidelined.

With Aldridge out, the Spurs are keeping Luka Samanic in San Antonio instead of sending him back to Austin. Samanic, the 19th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, hasn’t made his professional debut yet. Drew Eubanks is also in San Antonio, while Chimezie Metu is in Austin.

Last game, the Spurs went small and started Trey Lyles at center, DeMar DeRozan at power forward and inserted Lonnie Walker IV into the lineup in place of Aldridge. This game, due to the fact that the Magic have Nikola Vucevic at center, expect head coach Gregg Popovich to start Jakob Poeltl in the middle. 

Aaron Gordon Takes Leap for Magic

After finishing second in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Aaron Gordon is blossoming for Orlando. Before the All-Star break, Gordon was posting underwhelming averages of 14.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists, while shooting 42.4% from the field and 30.8% from three-point territory. Since returning from the All-Star festivities, Gordon is averaging 19.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists on 53.6% shooting from the field and 41.2% shooting from downtown.

The Magic have to be thrilled with Gordon’s production, especially because they play so much better when he’s thriving. In wins, Gordon is averaging 16.8 points on 47.0% shooting from the floor. In losses, he’s averaging 12.6 points on 39.8% shooting.

Prediction: Spurs vs. Magic

Oddsmakers see the Spurs winning this game 113-109. I, too, think the Spurs win this game. Being without Aldridge makes it tougher but they have to realize this is basically a do-or-die. If the Spurs lose, it may be time to forget about the playoffs.

San Antonio Spurs – 110
Orlando Magic – 105