Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Orlando Magic – Game #32

The San Antonio Spurs will play the Orlando Magic this evening on a second night of a back-to-back. Last night, the Spurs attempted to rally late but they ultimately fell to the New Orleans Pelicans by a final score of 126-117 (see the Grades).

The Spurs enter tonight’s affair with a record of 10-21. That said, they’ve been playing better recently. In their last seven games, the Spurs are 4-3 — including impressive wins over the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Magic are in a similar boat. While their overall record of 12-21 isn’t anything to brag about, they’ve played a lot better lately. Orlando is 7-1 in their last eight games and their only defeat in that span was a one-point loss in Atlanta against the Hawks. 

The improved play by the Magic has corresponded with the return of Markelle Fultz. In games the 24-year-old has played, Orlando has a record of 7-5. Without him, the Magic were only 5-16. It also doesn’t hurt that rookie phenom Paolo Banchero is averaging 21.9 points. 6.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists, while super sophomore Franz Wagner is averaging 19.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

San Antonio Spurs Injury Update

Call it a Christmas miracle: After weeks of dealing with a plethora of injuries, the Spurs enter tonight’s contest against the Magic with all their players healthy. 

Keldon Johnson missed the last two games but he’ll be back in the lineup tonight. Blake Wesley, who hasn’t played since late in October after suffering a torn MCL, is also back. Tre Jones appeared to injure his hand late in the game against the Pelicans but he too is good to go.

San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup

Head coach Gregg Popovich will likely turn to his most common starting lineup: Keldon Johnson at small forward, Devin Vassell at shooting guard, Jakob Poeltl at center, Jeremy Sochan at power forward and Tre Jones at point guard. 

Against New Orleans, Sochan started at power forward and also played backup point guard. The results were fantastic, as the rookie finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while shooting 7-for-14 from the field, 2-for-4 from three-point range and 7-for-10 at the free throw line. For the second straight game, Sochan shot his free throws with one hand.

Who will be the backup point guard tonight for the Spurs? Popovich will likely keep Sochan at that position. However, there’s also a chance he goes with Blake Wesley at backup point guard. After Joshua Primo was waived, Wesley was the team’s backup point guard — and he did well in that role before suffering a knee injury that kept him out for nearly two months.

Betting Guide: Spurs at Magic

The Magic are favored by 6.5 points and the over/under is at 227.5 points. While it’s great that the Spurs don’t have any injuries to report, this is going to be a very difficult game for San Antonio. It’s the second night of a back-to-back against a team that hasn’t played since Wednesday. Orlando is also red hot and they haven’t lost at home since December 5th.

For those reasons, the smart money is on the Magic to cover the 6.5-point spread.