The Cleveland Cavaliers visited the Orlando Magic without the services of two key starters. Still, Orlando came up short as they were defeated 113-106.
In their final preseason game, the Orlando Magic needed to keep the momentum rolling. The Cleveland Cavaliers would be playing without Lebron James and Kevin Love. Coach Frank Vogel mentioned pregame that he intended to deploy somewhat of a regular season rotation. Once the last buzzer sounded the minutes were a little more evenly distributed than a typical regular season game would be. The starters played a max of 25 minutes each and 7 reserves got time on the court. It’s probably safe to say that the starting five will spend more than 25 minutes on the court and bringing in seven players from the bench won’t be the norm. There were some things to be encouraged about as the Orlando Magic look forward to the regular season.
What Looked Good
The starting five just as it did last season, did a good job when on the floor together. Even with Jonathon Simmons in for Terrence Ross, the starters held their own. Each of the Magic starters scored in double figures with Aaron Gordon leading all scorers with 21 points. From behind the arch, the Magic went 11 of 33, 8 of 16 from the starters alone.
Elfrid Payton had a particularly good night going 4 for 4 from the field tallying 11 points 4 rebounds and 6 assists. The chemistry with Aaron Gordon is just as strong as ever. Payton connected with Gordon for 4 of his assists o the night.
Work in Progress
The Achilles heel for the Orlando Magic last season seemed to be the production of the bench. Tonight the bench was the weak link once again. The second unit of the Magic was outscored by the Cavaliers second unit 71-40. The bench just could not get it going tonight. From behind the arch, they made 3 out of 16 attempts. On the bright side, Mario Hezonja was 1 for 1.
The bench will get a jolt of energy when Terrence Ross returns to the floor. Whether Ross is starting or Simmons is starting, both players provide a spark and will contribute points off the bench.
The Orlando Magic will now turn their attention to the regular season. All of the offseason preparations and hard work is going to count moving forward. The Orlando Magic are a mystery to the rest of the NBA. Many believe that the team is in basketball purgatory stuck between not that bad, but not really good. The pieces in place have been shifted and reshuffled for the past three years. This team finally has some consistency and that consistency has bred confidence. The Orlando Magic are hungry to prove they are more than mediocre misfit pieces. It all starts Wednesday, October 18th at the Amway Center versus the in-state rival Miami Heat.