San Antonio at Orlando
Time: 6 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: SAS -10
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Orlando Magic enter phase II of a failed rebuild as it hosts the San Antonio Spurs following the trade of Serge Ibaka. The Magic will turn to Aaron Gordon as its starting power forward, and the San Antonio Spurs will travel to face an Orlando team clearly in tank mode. NBA oddsmakers well aware of this have set the Spurs as 10-point favorites in the game, which will air at 6 PM (CST) on NBA League Pass.
Orlando has been in a tailspin most of the season, with few combinations working nor any real rhyme or reason to its rotation. Perhaps that changes with the exodus of Ibaka, as Gordon now shifts back to a position he is more comfortable and natural at. While Gordon is undersized as 4-man at just 6’8”, his extra-worldly athleticism and lack of shooting ability seems to dictate this move could help Orlando’s fate, at least some. Meanwhile, the addition of Terrence Ross, who was acquired for Ibaka, should help add some court spacing to the Magic. Also a dunk contest champion, Ross will bring a few highlight dunks to pump some excitement into the languishing franchise. Nevertheless, to expect the tweaked Magic to hang with a perennial contender like San Antonio is probably asking far too much.
The Spurs have cooled somewhat with Pau Gasol on the shelf, but this game will provide a great chance for backup center Dewayne Dedmon to thrive against his former team. Dedmon is hardly as offensively talented as Gasol, but his hard work and finishing ability has meshed perfectly with the Spurs and Gregg Popovich’s flawless system. To see Dedmon come out and abuse his former team on the glass would be no surprise whatsoever. He has averaged 6.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals/blocks in 21 minutes a night over the Spurs’ last 10 games. San Antonio, however, has won just six of those contests as it more or less cruises in preparation for the 2017 playoffs.
Even with the quasi-slump, San Antonio still maintains the No. 2 spot in the West at 42-13, trailing Golden State by just 4 games, a gap it is quite unlikely to surmount at any rate. Holding off No. 3 Houston is and should be far more of a priority, and San Antonio still maintains a 3-game lead in the standings over the Rockets. San Antonio is 19-11 on the road this season and Orlando has been good nowhere, but especially poor on its home court. The Magic are just 9-17 at home, and Orlando surrenders 106.1 points per game. Remember: After the additions of Ibaka and center Bismack Biyombo this was a team going all in for a defensive identity. Good defensive teams do not surrender those types of numbers, at least not while scoring under 100 points per game itself.
All in all, the Spurs may not be playing their best ball, but Orlando is not even playing good ball. This game should trend heavily toward a blowout, with the 10-point spread being quite conservative. San Antonio may have moved on from the Tim Duncan era, but it is becoming more and more apparent that this is a team that will succeed so long as Popovich is at the helm. The Organization has unarguably been the best in professional sports over the past two decades, and to see the Spurs get great production from a guy like Dedmon—who was largely ignored in Orlando—is fruitful and positive.
Factoring in other bench fodder like Jonathan Simmons and Dejounte Murray only makes it clear that one team’s trash is San Antonio’s treasure. Sure, Murray was a draft pick, but he was also one passed on by the majority of the other NBA franchise and in San Antonio his future is as bright as any rookies not named Joel Embiid or Malcolm Brogdon. The Spurs will continue to pass the torch to these younger guys as Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili age into the sunset. Meanwhile, Orlando does its rebuilding thing in what has been the worst phase in franchise history: the fifth year of posteseason-less basketball.