Joe Ingles set to return as Magic begin 4-game trip at Heat

Hace 5 meses

Joe Ingles set to return as Magic begin 4-game trip at Heat

The reserves haven't been as productive without Joe Ingles, who went down with an ankle injury last month and missed 13 games.

The reserves haven't been as productive without Joe Ingles, who went down with an ankle injury last month and missed 13 games.

When Jamahl Mosley was asked Thursday after practice for a status update on veteran Joe Ingles (left ankle sprain), the third-year Magic coach said Ingles was “probably progressing a little bit faster” than Franz Wagner (right ankle sprain).

Foreshadowing to a certain degree, Mosley was accurate in his assessment.

Ingles, who sat out 13 games after spraining his left ankle Dec. 11 against Cleveland, is no longer listed on Orlando‘s injury report and is set to make his return at Miami on Friday (Bally Sports Florida, 8).

Wagner and Gary Harris (right calf strain) will miss their fourth game in a row while Jonathan Isaac (illness) won’t be available for a 10th consecutive contest.

Mosley said Wagner went through a light workout Thursday that included no contact, a little bit of shooting and not much movement.

“He’s progressing in the right direction but we’re going to have to view that on a daily basis to see how he responds to what he’s able to do,” he said at AdventHealth Center.

Jalen Suggs’ availability for Magic has been his top improvement

Although Isaac won’t be available again, it’s for a different reason than the past nine games missed. The 6-10 forward was previously listed with a right hamstring strain but did not practice Thursday due to a sickness that’s going around the team.

The illness forced center Goga Bitadze to sit out at Denver last week and limited Anthony Black’s minutes to just five against the Nuggets.

While he’s not listed on Orlando’s injury report, Paolo Banchero mentioned Thursday that’s he’s been sick as well.

“It’s life, it’s the locker room, it’s guys in there who catch colds, get flus and get sick,” Mosley said. “In sport, injuries happen. This is part of our sport and what we have to constantly prepare for.”

As the team waits for Isaac to get healthy, Ingles’ return is significant for the Magic’s second unit.

During the first 24 games with Ingles coming off the bench, Orlando ranked second in bench points (45.7) and fifth in assists (10.5).

In the last 13 games, the Magic’s bench dropped to 13th in points (36.8) and assists (8.5).

Of course, Ingles’ absence wasn’t the only reason for this regression. Reserves Caleb Houstan and Chuma Okeke have been thrusted into the starting lineup the last two games and the Magic also have missed Harris’ shooting (35.8% from 3 on the road).

But it was clear from the jump that the second unit needed the calming presence of Ingles, who often makes simple decisions as a playmaker on both ends.

Ingles has led (or tied) the team in assists six times while recording at least one steal 13 times and two or more steals three times.

His return comes at an opportune time for the Magic, too.

Orlando begins a four-game road trip Friday night and travels after the game to face the Thunder on Saturday (Bally Sports Florida, 8). From there the team takes on the Knicks and Hawks before returning home.

Only the Hawks post a below-.500 record, but they’ve beaten the Magic once (by 1 point on Nov. 9 in Mexico City) and recently lost in overtime at Kia Center.

The Heat, who are led by Tyler Herro (22.4 points) and Bam Adebayo (22.1) have yet to fall to a Southeast Divison opponent (7-0) and beat the Magic in Orlando on Dec. 20.

Herro (right shoulder strain) and forward Caleb Martin (right ankle sprain) are questionable. Heat star Jimmy Butler (toe sprain) and guard Kyle Lowry (left hand sprain) are doubtful.

Banchero shared the key to success for the Magic as they embark on the trip.

“Sticking together,” he said. “We’ve got four tough games in tough environments. If we’re able to stick together and play hard as a group, we should be able to get some wins.”

Email Jason Beede at [email protected] or follow him on X, known as Twitter, at @therealBeede.

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