Advanced Scouting: San Antonio Spurs at Orlando Magic


San Antonio Spurs at Orlando Magic 7:00 CST December 23, 2010

On November 22, the Spurs took advantage of a generous 3 point conversion rate to down a tough Magic team 106-97. (They shot 12 of 19 from beyond the arc.) This time, the Magic are reeling, losing 8 of their past 9 games.

The Magic won 6 straight after losing to the Spurs. On December 4, they lost in Milwaukee when several players were out with the flu. Following the loss to the Bucks, Orlando lost four tough matchups in their next five games. Possibly as a reaction to this tough stretch, they sent Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat packing in favor of Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Earl Clark and Jason Richardson. Thus far, the trade has not paid off as the Magic have lost two of three since the trade. However, these new pieces are sure to improve and I suspect the Magic will once again be in the thick of things at the end of the season.

The main thing to keep in mind when preparing for Orlando is that they still have several three point threats and difficult matchups. Additionally, their offensive and defensive cog remains Dwight Howard. Here is a link to my write-up prior to their prior matchup against the Magic.

Howard had 18 points on 15 post possessions the last time he faced the Spurs. I counted 5 or 6 possessions where he started going to the middle and spun baseline. He scored on all but one of these plays. The Magic were unable to score on any pass-outs from post possessions. With the new players still struggling to fit in, sending extra help will likely pay off for the Spurs.

The Spurs utilized 8 post possessions. They only attempted shots on 3 such possessions when the highly intimidating Howard was on the floor. (The other were either passed out or attempted with Gortat spelling Howard). On these three possessions, Blair easily scored against Lewis, McDyess missed a jumper and Duncan drew Howard’s only foul of the game. Clearly, success might be difficult to find with Dwight Howard patrolling the paint, but Duncan could certainly ring up a few calls against the hack-happy Howard. Duncan did have some success driving on a rotating Howard after catching the ball on the high post. (These were not officially post possessions since Howard was not set when Duncan caught the ball.)

Team Statistics

SRS ranks:

Orlando: 2.43 (11th)
San Antonio: 8.50 (2nd)

Key Player Statistics (courtesy of (effective December 15, 2010) and

PlayerFraction of teams minutesPER minus Counterpart PEROn court +/-per 48 minutesOff court +/-per 48 minutes2 Year Adjusted +/-

* Figures reflect tenure with Phoenix
* Figures reflect tenure with Washington

Most valuable/utilized lineup:

Nelson, Redick, Q.Richardson, Bass, Howard -3 in 41 minutes

No other lineup of active Magic players has contributed more than 12 minutes of playing time at this point.


The back to back road game always makes things a little more difficult, but the Spurs will have another opportunity to take on yet another team adjusting to new pieces. Despite their recent struggles, the Magic should retain the same killer structure of a strong post presence, great three ball shooters and Dwight Howard’s dominating defense. With the potential to rain threes, the Magic could be dangerous in their new role as underdogs, but it will probably take a little luck to beat the Spurs at this point.

  • Czernobog

    Trap game. The new look Magic suck, but are still somewhat of a threat to a team on a segababa who are looking forward to a week facing off against two contenders.

    Anyone know when Hill is supposed to be back?

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  • Hobson13

    Spurs can win this one, but it won’t be easy. This is not only the second game of a back to back, but the 3rd game in 4 days for the Spurs. Duncan only played 27 minutes, but Manu, Tony, and RJ played 36 last night. I would expect to see another heavy dose of Neal, Quinn, Splitter, and McDyess since he only played 3 minutes last night.

    The Magic made their huge trade to help them out on the offensive end of the floor. However, in doing so, they gave up a bit of defense. I really have no what to expect from Orlando on either end of the court, but a win against the Spurs would be a HUGE morale booster for a team that has wilted as of late. Expect a big effort tonight from the Magic, but hopefully we can prevail.

  • SA_Ray

    Second night of a back to back against a struggling team that could use a win against a big time opponent. I expect the Magic to come gunning for the Spurs as a statement game that the trade was worth it. This smells of a possible upset to me.

    The Magic traded away every bit of defense they had not named Howard so in theory the Spurs should be able to light it up from the outside.
    The question will be whether Arenas, Hedo and Richardson are hitting their threes. If they are then this is a close game. If not then the Spurs could run away with it.

  • SG

    Spurs need to play hard…dont let up….for 1 sec.

  • jwalt

    Won’t even be an upset. Magic is favored by 2 1/2 points.

    I will be pleasantly surprised if the Spurs win tonight, I expect to see them tired, especially Manu, who has logged 36 minutes the last two games.

    We need Hill back, and the last I read he is due to miss to miss “the next several games.”

    Hopefully we can stay in the game for the first 3 quarters while Manu gets plenty of pine time so that he’s refreshed enough to play another big 4th quarter.

  • rob

    Spurs 108 / Magic 105

  • Greyberger

    Some predictions from around the web:

    Vegas line is +2.0 Orlando
    ESPN Accuscore prediction ORL 51%, SAS 49% prediction SAS 60%, ORL 40% prediction SAS 53.6%, ORL 46.4%

    I’d give the ASPM prediction too but I don’t know how to adjust the new roster for Orlando yet. I know without looking it won’t like our odds on a back to back, against a rested team, on the road.

    But I think we’ll be fine. Go Spurs!

  • Daniel T


    How is Orlando that rested? This is also their 3rd game in 4 days and 4 in 6. Their off day yesterday they had a 2 hour practice session so that the new acquisitions might begin to grasp the system. Howard might be capable of playing 120+ minutes in a 4 day span, but that’s not quite resting.

  • Greyberger

    While both teams are on our third game in four nights, what game it is in that sequence matters too. In a recent three-year sample teams on a three in four back-to-back did 1.18 points per hundo worse (most of the decline is on defense) than teams on a three in four, one day rest.

    Granted that’s not as dramatic a difference as between performance on “3rd in 4 BTB” and all other kinds of “one day rest” type games (games where the day of rest didn’t come right after a BTB). That ‘rest advantage’ is, on average, 4.15 points per hundred possessions, more than the average homecourt advantage.

    Still, that 1.18 bonus is enough to swing the prediction in the model from Spurs towards Orlando (with the old roster, so not ideal).

  • Francesco

    I will say it again:
    Duncan can no longer get the job done from the low post.
    If you watch games you know.
    If you understand basketball you also know what it means in the playoffs.
    In the next 7 games/2 weeks :
    – Magic
    – Lakers
    – Mavs
    – Thunder
    – Knicks
    – Celtics
    4 of which on the road.

    Let’s see how good we REALLY are after that stretch

  • Scott Sereday

    @jwalt @Greyberger

    I do think the Spurs should be favored, but it is tough to quantify everything going on in this one. Optimistically (from the Magic’s perspective), Orlando can play like one of the very best in the NBA tonight. They have home court advantage and rest advantage. However, there is a large potential to struggle at this point. (Again, from the Magic’s perspective.)

    Orlando has yet to put it together with the new roster and with the struggles they’ve had lately, you’ve got to wonder if they don’t have injury issues or other compounding problems. (Hollinger’s Power Ranking has Orlando at 17th and I don’t think the trade makes them significantly better at this point.)

    Everyone has a much better idea what to expect with the Spurs. As uncertain as we are about the Magic, they could win easy, but I think the Spurs are more than 50-50 to take this one.


    Good point about the tough stretch of upcoming games, but I can’t say I agree with you about Duncan in the post. I suspect that he is adjusting to the diminished offensive role, but I wouldn’t give up on his post presence with 2/3 of the season left. Clearly Spurs fan’s have been spoiled a bit with his career (huge understatement), but he is still a better post option than most.

  • Bentley

    I wont be the least surprised if the Spurs lose tonight. Although they have been winning, the quality of their play has dropped off quite a bit

  • BayAreaSpursFan

    @ Francesco:
    Have you seen the new offense of the Spurs? It is not the same offense that gave Timmy the opprotunity to score or make him the go to guy. This new offense spreads the floor and the guys are knocking down the shots. This will open things up for Timmy down the line and he should see less double team sets against him. Im not worried about these next two weeks. All that matters is what happens at the end of the season. You never know what you are going to get with Pop. I will be happy if during this next streatch of games the Spurs split the six games. I hope the media keeps them out of the limelight and the Spurs just sneak up on everybody that is not a Spurs fan. Go Spurs Go!

  • DorieStreet

    @ BayAreaSpursFan:

    Media slowly taking notice (ESPN afternoon shows noting Celtics & Spurs win streaks- consensus- Celtics are for real (key people out with injuries) while Spurs home schedule provided fast start- waiting for the tailoff). We will still be under the limelight come New Year’s Day even at 29-3 because of pro/college football action. It would be fantastic to start that 3 game road trip to the East being the first NBA squad to 30 wins.

  • Gary

    Charles shouldn’t hate on the Spurs like that.. I think he’s a bit too in love with Orlando right now… Spurs are gonna give a nice back to back performance tonight I can sense it.

  • DBAGuy

    Spurs should have stayed in San Antonio, they did not come to play tonight! Sucks that the macs have beat all these teams. Spurs record may in fact be just luck!!

  • DBAGuy

    Defense has just been horrible tonight? Is this pop giving up a game or this team really can’t play any defense this year?

  • Flavor

    Oh great… here come all the trade talks…

  • DBAGuy

    I don’t thinkwe need trades but damn we couldn’t have played any worse. Our defense is horrible, we do need interior help, everyone knows to attack us at the rim, our zone defense was laughable..

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Francesco

    You have no idea what you are talking about – Timmy does just fine in the POST and if you have watched all year he is getting more and more shots from the elbow area…. Because that’s where the shots are for him in this new Offense……….The SPURS are NOT running any plays for him this year and he gets most of his buckets after setting the screen………….

    @ The FO………..

    This TEAM CAN NOT WIN A TITLE AS IS!!!!!!!!!!!! These last @ games have shown us a new KINK in the Armor of SA………….. Perimeter D is AWFUL and We don’t have the Talent down low to make up for it anymore……… We need another BIG Body ASAP. Tiago needs to START ASAP……. and I would like to see as little as BONNER AND BLAIR AS POSSIBLE when playing other Elite teams…….

    Look @ our team and then take a look at other ELITE Teams and ask yourself – Who on our team can Defend their position against other GOOD/ELITE TEAMS – NOT MANY

    Denver – Lawson, Billups, JR., Affalo, all went any where they wanted when they wanted……. IF Not for the ZONE they would have kicked our asses W/O Melo(their best player – who dropped 30 on us last game).

    Magic – Richardson, Arenas, Turk, and Reddick all light us up and ADD to that BASS(not even a top 20 PF in the NBA) – Once again they went were they wanted to go and did what they wanted to do…………..

  • td4life


    Thought I heard Reggie Miller saying during the game that Pop said that the Spurs defensive days are over, and that they are focused on winning through offense… I walked in mid-way, and wasn’t sure if Miller was speculating or quoting. Can somone find the quotes and report on whether this is true, or speculation?

    My biggest knock on the Bonner signing and cap space/roster spot, was not about his production per se, but what he costs the team in terms of their ability to build a roster more suited to defensive success. I have said repeatedly that Spurs’ fans will see no trades this season, and I have also been bearish regarding the meaning of the Spurs’ record, considering strength-of-schedule ever since the beginning of the season. I was hoping for a nice cushion up through the game versus the Wizards, because following that game things will start to get very real. But I have been hoping for ever-improving defense, so I would like to know if Pop has low-expectations for this roster on that end of the floor.

    It bothers me that Kenny Smith was the Spurs biggest advocate, b/c I think he’s generally an idiot, despite his work ethic to become a better broadcaster. And I didn’t like it that Barkley has been the nay-sayer, especially leading into tonight’s game, b/c I think he is generally the more spot-on out of the two of them.

    I know, I know, it’s a back2back, and Orlando was unlikely to lose 9 of 10, especially now that they are getting more home games, and their new guys can’t continue to shoot 20% or whatever forever… but are we the San Antonio Suns?

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ FLAVOR

    Yes here come the trade talks

    There are 2 ways to improve a porous defensive unit.

    1. Insert a Bruce Bowen like player into the lineup. O wait, we don’t have one…… And if we did HAVE ONE – it still wound have not changed our fate tonight – WE would have needed 2………

    2. Insert a Defensive BIG into the lineup that can protect the RIM and cover up for the guards. Outside of Timmy we don’t have that either…. Splitter is playing well – NOT A DEFENSIVE PRESENCE AT ALL – Bonner and Blair were basically abused by Bass tonight.

    So if the perimeter guys can’t keep their men in front of them and our BIGS can’t cover for them – then what…… We have to rely on hoisting up as many 3’s as possible and hope WE MAKE 50% or more………. That has been tried by several teams in the NBA – It has NEVER WON A TITLE!!!

  • rob

    meh. Not that big a deal. B2B on the road. Against a worthy opponent.

    One can’t be suprised with the outcome.

    Hopefully some rest will rejuvenate more inspired play. Especially for the Dallas game.

  • Tim in Surrey

    @ TD = Best EVER

    Or you could try my five-part solution:

    1. Remember that the Spurs’ perimeter defense is suffering due to the fact that they’re missing their best perimeter defender (Hill).

    2. Recognize that flying from SA to Orlando on a btb against a good team that has been embarassed in the media spotlight recently, is desperately in need a win, and has a day’s rest is a tough assignment.

    3. Realize that the Spurs’ defense isn’t “porous” by any measure.

    4. Remember that this is only their fourth loss in two months. Fourth.

    5. Chill.

    (Of course, rob’s post right above mine said basically the same thing, but with far fewer words…)

    In the meantime, Merry Christmas everyone!

  • mikrobass3

    from “Tim in Surrey”: “…flying from SA to Orlando on a btb …” this point is well taken, i believe. it seems that teams in general and the spurs especially always struggle with jet lag when traveling east. even considering the back-to-back, they lost an hour to time zone difference and another half-hour to the national t.v. start time. they sure looked gassed after the first quarter and were regularly beat in transition.

  • DorieStreet

    Please stop with the travel time–jet lag–time zone–start time crap. This is a routine EVERY team goes through 20 or so times over the season- don’t use it as a reason for the loss. The offense was weak & helter-skelter; there was NO defensive intensity, particularly by all the guards. They had 6 more FG attempts but made 12 less shots. The Spurs outrebounded the Magic by 7 (16-4 for offensive) but Orlando nearly doubled the assist count 31-17. I don’t see any Spurs contests except nationally televised (TNT-ESPN-ABC) which means vs. perennial playoff teams. But it is hard to beat any team giving up 34 & 35 points a quarter. It seemed to me Pop thought the Magic was going to go all out so let’s just run with them and see what happens. Neal & RJ got 30 minutes but no one else was even close (8 only for McDyess?)

  • mikrobass3

    harumph. i didn’t suggest ‘time crap’ as a reason for the loss. however, i do consider it a point well taken and a contributing factor in the loss.

    orlando shot 60% overall from the field. i noticed several transition buckets for them off long rebounds from our missed outside shots; our guards failed to get back and generally got outplayed all over the court. as you point out, many factors for the loss here. we lost this track meet. wonder why we were so slow. the back to back, fly east, start early ‘time crap’ couldn’t possibly be a factor…harumph.

  • TD = Best EVER

    To every one who says it was a B2B – yes it was – But did you watch the 1stgame against Denver? If you did you would notice a surprisingly similar game…… SPURS were getting their butts kicked by an undermanned Denver team and were saved by a cold Denver shooting streak while the SPURS went zone……. SO yes we need to make something happen while we still have 1st place in the West…..

  • Flavor

    ^^ they won the first game against Denver…