Magic coach Jamahl Mosley eyes more evaluation in 1st game at Celtics

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The Orlando Magic open their four-game preseason slate Monday night at Boston with numerous questions to answer as they embark on a youth movement.

A huge part of that rebuilding project is evaluating the talent and how it all molds. That will be the task of first-year head coach Jamahl Mosley and his staff as the Magic hit the parquet at TD Garden.

“It’s a continuation of training camp,” Mosley said. “It’s continuing to get a feel for what combinations work well together. ... how they’re picking up on the things that we’re asking them to do from our foundation of defending first and getting into the basketball, being physical, how we’re running lanes.

“You like to continue to see the rhythm of guys, the combinations, the chemistry. We talk about those foundations that we’re laying during camp; you want to see what they look like. And it’s still a little bit of conditioning for guys.”

Mosley can experiment with lineups and rotations such as three-guard lineups, or how two centers like Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba work together at the same time.

“Obviously, you are playing against someone else, so it helps that you can do the things that may have worked in practice but may not work in a game,” Mosley said. “You take the film back and understand what works and what we need to improve on.”

Mosley likes to emphasize positionless basketball that has become the norm in the NBA. It adds versatility to the lineup when a center knows the role of forwards, or guards can step into forward spots or a forward can slide to center or initiate offense as the primary ballhandler.

“When we say positionless it’s that they can understand doing the same things from different spots on the floor,” Mosley said. “So if we’re running a pick-and-roll, for instance, and we have a 1 handing the basketball, it should be no different with his decision-making than if a 2 was handling the basketball.

“Now whether that person setting the screen is a 4 or a 3, there is still going to be an obligation in their role to roll to the rim because it’s what creates the problem for the defense. ... So it’s more about decision-making in certain positions than it is just not having a role.”

Mosley also will experiment with calling different plays and seeing how his players respond to certain sets, but his main philosophy is pushing tempo and making the right passes.

“That’s the part of pace that we talk about. You want to get up the floor [fast], but then after that you want to leave the decision-making in their hands so they feel what’s going on,” Mosley said. “When I have to call plays, I will to get everybody in the spots that they need to be in.

“But I want them to understand the feel of the game and when and how to make the right decisions and that’s a growth process.”

In the whole scheme of things, however, it’s not just players being assessed. Mosley goes through his own self-assessment and also has the help of his staff to keep things in balance.

“It’s the same way that I assess our guys,” Mosley said. “The staff that we have has been fantastic because it’s all about us growing and helping these guys learn ... and get better. That’s how I really assess what I’m doing.”

The Magic are on the road for their first two preseason games,including a trip to New Orleans on Wednesday before finally getting on the Amway Center floor Sunday against San Antonio.

The Magic will not have forward Chuma Okeke, who is still nursing a hip bruise. Forward Jonathan Isaac (torn ACL/meniscus), point guard Markelle Fultz (torn ACL) and guard Michael Carter-Williams (bone spurs, ankle) also are out and unlikely to play in the preseason.

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