Pregame: What to Watch For, Orlando Magic at Golden State Warriors
The Orlando Magic are 1-1 on their 4 game west coast trip. After a tough loss, they face the reigning champion Golden State Warriors. Do the Magic have enough firepower to take down the Warriors?
The Orlando Magic will face unquestionably their toughest test this season. Playing the defending champion Golden State Warriors on their home court will be as difficult a task as any. The Magic will go into this game less than 100% as backup point guard DJ Augustin is still recovering from a hamstring injury. Orlando will also be without the services of rookie Jonathan Isaac who suffered an ankle injury in the Magic’s last game. On a good note, Elfrid Payton will be back in the starting lineup tonight after missing a game with tightness in his hamstring. Orlando might also catch a bit of a break as Steph Curry is listed as questionable for the Warriors tonight. Here are some things to watch for tonight.
The X Factor
The absence of Elfrid Payton(and DJ Augustin) have been felt in all of Orlando’s losses this season. Orlando has yet to lose a game with Payton available from start to finish. It goes without saying that Elfrid Payton drives this team. In his first action returning from injury against the New York Knicks Payton’s first instinct was to lob a pass to Aaron Gordon at the rim. From there the tone was set for the night. “The X Factor” as Gordon and Payton call it is virtually unstoppable.
Throwing the unexpected lob high above the rim where only Gordon and Superman can get to it for the dunk not only puts points on the board, it excites the team. The Magic will need to convert a few of these alley-oops throughout the game. When Gordon throws down a lob, momentum is shifted. It’s a run stopper for opponents and a run starter for the Magic. Look for Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon to hook up on lobs even more than usual tonight.
The Golden State Warriors have raised the bar for good offense in the NBA. Typically they are known for their ability to connect from behind the arch at every position on the floor. What goes under the radar is their ability to get to the rim. Being such a dangerous threat behind the arch the Warriors make opponents close out hard to the three-point line. Those hard closeouts often lead to open driving lanes. Those open driving lanes lead to help defense rotating. That help defense then leads to an open man behind the arch after the extra pass is made.
The Orlando Magic have to do a good job of staying with their man tonight. Being close to your man takes away the need for aggressive closeouts which puts everyone out of position. If the Magic can focus and keep their man in front of them for tough shots they will have a chance in this game. If the Warriors happen to convert contested shots you have to live with that, but being caught out of position cannot happen against this team. Looks for the Magic to come out focused on the defensive end.