Orlando preseason begins in Boston tonight with a testing road game against the Celtics. Magic basketball is back!
Tip off here in the U.K. is at 12-30am (7:30pm for our friends in Orlando).
You can watch the game on NBA League Pass.
THE MATCHUP AS THE ORLANDO PRESEASON BEGINS IN BOSTON
Preseason is not about getting a W. It is all about shaking off the rust, establishing a style of play, building chemistry, getting rhythm, improving fitness and experimenting with rotations. Preseason is also about taking to the court for the first time together as a team.
It is also the first opportunity for fans of both teams to see the direction that each new head coach is aiming for.
With Summer League Magic Coach Jamahl Mosely has already taken his first steps in public of coaching the team. He is quoted as saying the game is an extension of training camp. He is focusing on player combinations, how they’re picking up on the “foundation of defending first and getting into the basketball, being physical, how we’re running lanes”.
This game along with those upcoming in New Orleans (Oct 6th), then back in the Amway against San Antonio (Oct 10th) and finally Boston again (Oct 13th) is the time to make things ready for opening night in San Antonio on October 20th.
THE ORLANDO MAGIC INJURY REPORT
Let’s start with the absences, unfortunately a very common theme for every Magic fan.
Chuma Okeke is not expected to play having been protected during training camp so far. This is a result of the hip injury, described as a bone bruise.
Michael Carter-Williams is out after undergoing surgery to remove a bone fragment and repair his left ankle ligament.
Jonathan Isaac remains out as he rehabilitates from the left knee ACL injury that saw him miss all of last season.
Markelle Fultz is reported by ESPN to be without a firm timetable for return from last season’s left knee ACL tear and subsequent surgery.
THE MAGIC LINEUP AS THE ORLANDO PRESEASON BEGINS IN BOSTON
Tonight will see the debut in a Magic uniform of rookies Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner.
Suggs is seen by many as being the player to save the Magic. Can he?
The 20 year old guard has huge potential, coming in with a history of success in college and high school basketball. He is expected to be able to transfer his ability onto the NBA stage. Suggs is a play maker, a talented combo guard. He can run the point, play at pace in transition and works well in the pick-and-roll. At the rim he can finish through his pace and strength. His jump shot is solid and shows range. Add in being an athletic defender and it is easy to understand why Magic fans were so excited when Suggs unexpectedly dropped to Orlando with the 5th pick in the Draft.
Cole Anthony and RJ Hampton enter their second professional season. Their ability was clear to see during their rookie season. Both have been working through the summer to improve their game.
Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr both begin their 4th NBA season as they battle for minutes at the centre position.
One certainty is that all of the roster who suit up will see some playing time.
But who starts?
Suggs and Cole should occupy the back court. Wendell Carter Jr is likely to get the starting centre roll.
Robin Lopez as the veteran presence at the position will also make his Magic debut.
That leaves the power and small forward spots to be decided. Through the absence of Isaac and Okeke, expect Franz Wagner to start at power forward. The small forward will be either Gary Harris or Terrence Ross. Both bring veteran experience, with an ability to shoot the ball from range.
OUR OPPONENTS – THE BOSTON CELTICS
As the Orlando preseason begins in Boston so does life for the Celtics’ new head coach Ime Udoka.
He is said to be coaching the team hard and holding players accountable. Udoka is expected to have the Celtics playing at a faster pace than under previous head coach Brad Stevens.
It is on the defensive end that Boston could be a dominant force in the league. Dennis Schroder is a constant nuisance to opposing guards. Then they have the strength and gritty defence of Marcus Smart, Josh Richardson, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Robert Williams.
In our preview of the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division we took a look at the key arrivals and departures for the Celtics as they seek to reclaim their former glory. Since that article was published Boston traded with the Memphis Grizzlies on September 3rd acquiring Juancho Hernangomez (F) in exchange for Kris Dunn (G), Carsen Edwards (G) and a 2026 second round pick swap.
The Boston Celtics starting unit could be something like Dennis Schroeder (PG), Marcus Smart (SG), Jaylen Brown (SF), Jayson Tatum (PF), Al Horford (C).
Boston do have some injury concerns. Juancho Hernangomez is day-to-day with a shoulder injury. Grant Williams (right foot sprain) is questionable, while Juwan Morgan (left hamstring strain) is out.
THE FINAL THOUGHT
Most NBA experts (almost certainly an understatement) see the Orlando Magic as finishing bottom of the Eastern Conference. The prediction is for an uphill battle for Coach Jamahl Mosely as he leads the team during this rebuilding season. The team are projected to win less than 25 games in an 82 game season. That prediction is heavily based on the weakness in shooting, which is very well documented. It also arises from valid uncertainties in development or of strong returns from serious injury. All are genuine concerns.
Training camp and even more so preseason exhibition games are of vital importance to the Magic squad. This will be the first opportunity for Orlando’s youthful and energetic team to play together against opposition. In the Celtics they face a team who will be pushing for the playoffs, projected to have a winning record well above the .500 mark.
Tonight in Boston sees the Orlando Magic will take those important first steps towards the future. This is the beginning of an exciting journey for every person associated to the Magic, be they player, staff or fan.
LET’S GO MAGIC!