Whether it was being able to put an entire third unit on the floor to finish Orlando’s opening night win against the Rockets or relying on role players such as Moe Wagner and Cole Anthony in the second half on the road in Portland, it’s clear Mosley has solid options available beyond his starting unit.
In the preseason, the Magic coach discussed the different lineup combinations he could turn to and that’s in large part due to the depth and health of his roster.
Orlando will have to continue to rely on that depth when the team faces its first back-to-back of the year (Lakers on Monday, Clippers on Tuesday) and wrap up its early season west coast trip later this week.
“It helps out so much because someone’s number can always be called,” Mosley told the Sentinel in a phone interview Sunday. “The work that our coaches put in with these guys is so detailed and they’ll be ready no matter when their number is called.”
During Friday’s five-point win against the Trail Blazers, Orlando’s depth was on full display.
Instead of re-inserting starting point guard Markelle Fultz, who sat the entire fourth quarter after going to the bench with two minutes left in the third, Mosley stuck with what was working.
The Magic, who led by 2 points after three quarters, put themselves ahead by 13 and only allowed Portland to score 4 until Deandre Ayton grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with just fewer than three minutes remaining in the game.
The decision to keep Anthony and Moe Wagner on the floor had nothing to do with the health of Fultz and Wendell Carter Jr. and all to do with not messing up the flow of the game. It’s a sign of good coaching.
“There was a rhythm of that group,” Mosley said before his team practiced Sunday in Los Angeles. “They had it going and sometimes as a coach you have to feel the momentum, rhythm of the game and what’s happening in that moment. And in that moment, Franz had been handling the ball most of the time and he and Moe had a rhythm going offensively.
“Then, defensively we had gotten stops. That was the difference-maker.”
Moe Wagner finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds off the bench in 22 minutes while Anthony led the second unit with 18 points in 28 minutes.
Eventually, Portland was able to fight back into the game which forced Carter to come off the bench, but Mosley will make a lot of his in-game lineup decisions on the fly.
“That is also the beauty of our camp and what we did in camp,” he said. “There were so many combinations that those guys played together. I always say it’s not necessarily what you’re running — it’s more important you understand the concepts of how we want to play.
“Those guys have done that with the continuity of being together.”
Missing Fultz, Anthony and Gary Harris due to injuries to the start the season a year ago resulted in the Magic winning just five of their first 25 games.
This season, the lone player who’s missed time is two-way guard Kevon Harris (right knee soreness). Beyond Harris, “everybody is in good health,” Mosley said.
“We’re going to recover the right way because a big portion of us having success this year is us being healthy. We want to make sure that we’re doing all of the right things by these guys.”
That includes Jonathan Isaac, who played just 11 games last year due to injury. After making his presence felt in 14 minutes (11 points, 2 blocks, 4 rebounds) on opening night, Isaac was less impactful (0-2 FG, 2 rebounds) in just eight minutes in Portland.
Mosley said the team is always going to monitor Isaac based on the feel of the game and how he’s feeling throughout.
“In that moment of the second half, the rotation changed,” Mosley said. “A lot of times he’s sitting so he’s not coming in right away so I always want to make sure that he’s in a great space to be able to check-in to get himself moving and going.
“So, he’s fine. He’s absolutely fine.”
Taking care of their bodies will be key this week when the Magic step up the competition against playoff teams from a season ago in the Lakers (10:30, Bally Sports Florida) and Clippers (10:30, Bally Sports Florida) before traveling to Utah on Thursday.
“We work hard and we’re going to recover hard,” Mosley said. “That means taking care of your mind, your body and energy. All of those things are so important as you travel, move and go.”