Pregame: What to Watch For, Orlando Magic vs Golden State Warriors

Now that the Orlando Magic have ended their losing streak they look to start a streak in the win column. Picking up a second straight win will be tough with the Golden State Warriors visiting Orlando tonight. Are the Magic back on track?

In Orlando’s previous meeting at Golden State, the Magic played the Warriors tough in the first half before falling behind in the third quarter. The Orlando Magic were unable to capitalize on the absence of Steph Curry and loss 110-100. Tonight’s game will be a little different. First of all, Orlando will be missing two key players as Jonathan Isaac will miss another game with a sprained ankle. Terrence Ross will also be out(indefinitely) after an MCL sprain on Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Golden State has some injury issues of their own as Klay Thompson is listed as questionable(sprained ankle). Here are a few things to watch for in tonight’s matchup.

Player Movement

The Orlando Magic know what works well for them to pick up victories. They have to use pace and ball movement on offense to get good looks. Going into a possession and have three or more passes is a recipe for success in Orlando. A great way to move the ball is by moving players. When isolating to take advantage of a particular matchup the offense for Orlando tends to stop moving. Whether its Nikola Vucevic getting the ball in the post or Aaron Gordon catching it on the wing Orlando has to keep moving.

While Gordon does have an advantage in some situations he is better at scoring after making quick decisions. To get those opportunities the Magic have to get the Warriors off balance. Continuous cuts in and out of the paint and flares to the perimeter keep the defense guessing and chasing. When defenders are chasing they tend to overreact in an effort to close out on shot opportunities. Making the extra pass or two after an overreaction leads to open looks at the basket. Look for the Orlando Magic to keep the Warriors chasing on the defensive end.

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Active Hands

The Orlando Magic have to keep their hands up on the defensive end. The Golden State Warriors are one of the best passing teams in the league. While they are a great shooting team from deep, the way they get those open shots is by scoring in the paint. When anyone for the Warriors penetrates the lane they have great vision to find a teammate cutting to the basket and slip them an assist. In their first meeting, Orlando did a great job of disrupting passes in the lane to force turnovers by keeping their hands active. Getting just a finger on the ball or a hand in the way makes those passes a little harder to complete. Lowering the number of baskets at the rim will help Orlando to keep this game competitive and hopefully lead to a victory.

Pregame: What to Watch For, Orlando Magic vs Indiana Pacers

The Orlando Magic suffered their worst home loss since 1991 after losing to the Utah Jazz 125-85. The road doesn’t get any easier as the red-hot Indiana Pacers come to town. Can the Magic turn things around?

The Orlando Magic are currently on a four-game losing streak. The Indiana Pacers, on the other hand, are on a three-game winning streak after dismantling the Miami Heat 120-95 last night. The Magic had their worse performance this season as the team showed no interest in fighting for a win. To make matters worse, Utah was playing the second night of a back to back without their best player. The Magic need to come into tonight’s matchup with focus. Keeping the energy level high and not dropping their heads when the Pacers make a run will be critical. Orlando has to take care of home and right the ship immediately to end this downward spiral. Here are a few things to look out for tonight.

Stick to the Plan

Many of Orlando’s woes come from the team’s lack of consistency. The Magic play their best when they are sharing the ball and creating open looks for each other. Problems arise when they start to fall behind. When their opponents go on a run the Magic tend to abandon the team ball concept and look to make individual plays to put points on the board. Taking the team away from moving the ball and keeping everyone involved drops the overall morale. Players start to get lazy on help defense and rotations causing the opponents lead to grow even more. The Orlando Magic cannot afford to stop sharing the ball. Allowing everyone to touch the ball during a possession keeps everyone on their toes and looking for the open man. Ball movement also makes guys work hard to get open which makes the opponent work as well. The Orlando Magic will surely move the ball to start the game. Look for the team’s response to an Indiana Pacers run. Will they abandon team ball again or stick to the plan and chip away at the lead?

Should The Orlando Magic Be Concerned About Their Ball Movement?

Oladipo vs Fournier

Victor Oladipo is returning to the Amway Center tonight. Once thought of as the face of the Magic and a key part of the rebuild Oladipo was traded last offseason. Many Magic fans are still miffed by the trade and would prefer the Magic kept Oladipo instead of Evan Fournier. Both Oladipo and Fournier are having great seasons so far and should be a great one on one matchup tonight. Many fans will be paying close attention and keeping score of possesions in which Fournier and Oladipo are matched up. For the Magic to have success tonight Evan Fournier will need to be at his best on both ends of the court. Being aggressive on offense with his penetration can suck the defense in and create open looks for someone. Fournier also needs to knock down open looks when he’s on the other end of an assist. The familiarity between Oladipo and the Magic will churn out some good basketball. Look for an intense battle as the Magic try to turn things around.

 

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.

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Closeout

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.

 

Pregame: What to Watch For, Orlando Magic at Phoenix Suns

The Orlando Magic are heading way out west for a road trip. Getting off to a good start will be critical to their confidence going forward. Can the Magic keep the momentum rolling?

The Orlando Magic will face the Phoenix Suns in the first game of their road trip. After getting Elfrid Payton back in their last game, the Magic returned to form after a two-game skid. The chemistry and trust built over the last four seasons were evident during Payton’s absence.

Point Guard Battle

A key matchup tonight will be at the point guard position. Elfrid Payton made a triumphant return to the lineup on Tuesday. The Magic sorely missed Payton’s presence on both sides of the ball. His impact was felt right from the beginning with an alley-oop to Aaron Gordon to start the game. Phoenix is coping with the departure of Eric Bledsoe with rookie Mike James. James played overseas prior to this season and has held up well in place of Bledsoe. While James has held most of the point guard responsibilities, the Suns have also placed the ball in Devin Booker’s hands more often. With Booker as the Suns’ go-to guy, having him control the flow of the offense gives them more options. A balance of James and Booker running the offense for Phoenix should be expected. Also look for Elfrid Payton to get the Magic going early and often.

Streaking Suns

The Phoenix Suns are on a four-game losing streak and two in a row at home. The Suns have been in disarray this entire season. They started out 0-3 while also giving up over 120 points in each game. The Head Coach at the time, Earl Watson, was fired after the poor start. Around the same time as Watson’s dismissal the teams best player, Eric Bledsoe, made an unfortunate social media post. Bledsoe tweeted “I don’t wanna be here“, and was immediately removed from team activities. The Suns had a slight resurgence after this episode, going 4-1. The losing streak began and Bledsoe was finally traded this week. With the Bledsoe drama over, the Suns will look to right the ship. The Magic want to keep the streak alive and hand Phoenix their fifth straight loss.

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Key to a Magic Victory

Three-point shots will be a major factor in the outcome of tonight’s game. The Orlando Magic are second in the league in three-point percentages (40.6%) and first in three-point percentage for their opponent (31.4%). During the two-game losing stretch, Orlando shot their worst percentages from deep and gave up their worst percentages as well. Phoenix has not been a great at converting behind the arch. They rank 22nd in the league shooting 34.2% from deep. The Suns rank 25th in the league for three-point percentage by opponents with 38.1%. For the Magic to pick up a win tonight they must capitalize on the three-point shot.

 

Post Game Reactions: Orlando Magic vs Boston Celtics

The Orlando Magic went to battle against the number one team in the NBA. After a bone-crushing loss in their previous game, Orlando surely would be more prepared, right? Sadly, the Magic were just as ill-equipped and fell to the Boston Celtics 104-88.

The Orlando Magic suffered a huge loss at the hands of the lowly Chicago Bulls on Friday night. They took to the Amway Center again Sunday to get back on track against the league-leading Boson Celtics. Still down their first and second string point guards, Orlando opted to play Jonathon Simmons as the starting point guard and keep Shelvin Mack running the second unit. While the intent was good the results remained the same as the previous game. Orlando failed to get into a rhythm on offense. A lot of the offensive ineptitude stems from Jonathon Simmons getting into early foul trouble. Simmons picked up his third foul with a little under 5 minutes remaining in the second quarter. Without Simmons steady defensive pressure on Kyrie Irving, the Celtics offense opened up and allowed their lead to grow. The Orlando Magic were out of the game by halftime.

 

Cold Shooting

The Orlando Magic had another off night shooting ball. In particular, Evan Fournier had a bad night. Fournier was an abysmal 2 of 14 from the field and 2 of 9 from behind the arch. Fournier has been Orlando’s steady hand consistently contributing about 20 points per game. He just could not get anything going in the paint tonight and was even held without a free throw attempt. As a team, the Magic shot 36.3 percent from the field and 20.7 percent from three-point range which is even worse than their previous night versus Chicago.

The Magic were on an abnormal tear in terms of their shooting percentages before DJ Augustin went down. A decline was expected to take place at some point but this drop off has been unbelievable. Finally, the Magic had figured out how to get good, open, high percentage shot with ball movement in the first seven games. It seems as if they have forgotten what got them to this place in the standings. They have to get back to moving the ball and trusting each other no matter who the point guard is.

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4th Quarter

After clawing their way back within 8 points at the end of the third quarter the Orlando Magic fell apart. The 4th quarter was not kind to the Magic and they did not take it well. When the team needed to desperately close out this game the Magic gave up 27 points while only scoring 19 points on the other end. A deficit that was manageable at the start of the quarter quickly got out of reach and the team looked like they threw in the towel. However, the Magic live to fight another day but they will have to regroup and put forth a much better effort to finish games.

The Orlando Magic next game is Wednesday versus the New York Knicks.

Pregame: What to Watch For, Orlando Magic vs Boston Celtics

The Orlando Magic are coming off of their worst performance of the season, which was also the first home loss. The Boston Celtics have the best record in the league. Can the Magic bounce back?

The Orlando Magic return to action tonight against the Boston Celtics. Boston comes into Orlando holding the boasting the best record in the NBA. After losing arguably their best player for the season in Gordon Hayward, Boston continues to impress. The Magic are an early season surprise and hope to knock off the Celtics while getting back to form. Orlando will be short-handed yet again as Elfrid Payton and DJ Augustin will miss tonight’s game. Payton is missing his eighth consecutive game this season, Augustin is missing his second. Here are a few things to look for tonight.

Point Guard

The Orlando Magic will be without the services of their first and second string point guards tonight. On the other side of the coin, the Boston Celtics feature one of the most dangerous point guards in the league in Kyrie Irving. The Magic had a tough time getting their offense going in their last outing. The chemistry missing from having either Payton or Augustin in the lineup completely changed the flow of the game for Orlando. The Magic will have to make a constant effort to push the pace and get points in transition.

They are at there best when the ball is moving and players are moving. Shelvin Mack will have to do a better job with the starters of getting everyone in the right place. On the defensive end, Mack will need to be on his toes to keep Kyrie Irving under control. The Magic may even choose to place Jonathon Simmons on Irving if things start to get out of hand. Look for better point guard okay tonight on both ends of the court.

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Bounce Back

The Orlando Magic have heard all season that their hot start and shooting percentages cannot be sustained. Friday night all of those non-believers were proven right. Orlando shot terrible on the night only converting  28.6% from three-point range. Not only were the shots not falling for Orlando, they lost big to a team they should defeat easily. The Magic will need to respond tonight. A great performance against the Boston Celtics will be vindication for a terrible loss a few night ago. A win would help bring back the confidence shown in the first eight games of the season. Fighting through these injuries early in the season will build character for a team already playing with a chip on their shoulder. Look for the Orlando Magic to bounce back and give a valiant effort to prove that their start wasn’t a fluke.

 

 

 

 

Post Game Reactions: Orlando Magic vs Chicago Bulls

The Orlando Magic failed to pass the century mark in scoring for the first time this season. Orlando was outplayed from start to finish and ended up with a blowout loss to the Chicago Bulls 105 – 83.

Going into the game Orlando would have the challenge of replacing the production of their first and second string point guards. With DJ Augustin being injured in the Magic last game in Memphis and Elfrid Payton not quite ready for action Orlando leaned on Shelvin Mack at point guard. The absence of Payton and Augustin were felt throughout this game as Orlando failed to ever get into the flow of their offense. The defense end of the floor was no better as Chicago had little resistance scoring. While Orlando did manage to take the lead for a short time the effort used to get the lead drained them. The Magic seemed out of sorts the entire game and never looked to be a cohesive unit.

Chemistry

What looked to be the Orlando Magic of the past 4 seasons returned to the Amway Center against the Bulls. While many will downplay the importance of chemistry, there is no denying that it was missing for Orlando tonight. After Elfrid Payton suffered his injury it was assumed that Orlando would regress slightly was DJ Augustin is not the creator that Payton is. However, when the Magic kept winning the narrative turned to Augustin being a better shooter than Payton, which opens up the floor. None of these observations are necessarily wrong. The main factor in the early success of this

The main factor in the early success of this team, however, was their chemistry. Payton has played with Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon since he was a rookie. DJ Augustin came aboard last season and even started over Payton for stretches of the year. Having that familiarity with your teammates and knowing their tendencies is a big part of long-term success. After seeing how the offense flowed with Shelvin Mack at the point shows how much chemistry is needed on this team. Mack is good in small spurts and even great when paired with the rest of the newcomers on the team. Placing him in the starting role just threw Orlando’s rotation off. Not only was the starting lineup affected, the bench was effected as well.

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Defensive Rotations

Aside from the offense never getting it going, the Magic were constantly late on rotations. They exerted so much effort trying to muster up some offense that they were gassed on the defensive end. While trying to make a comeback in the third and fourth quarters Chicago came up with wide open three-point shots. Many of the open looks came on second efforts. Orlando would play great initial defense and then 4 passes later someone is left open with no one within 10 feet of them.

The Orlando Magic next game is Sunday versus the Boston Celtics.

Pregame: What to Watch For, Orlando Magic vs Chicago Bulls

The Orlando Magic return home to the Amway Center to face the Chicago Bulls. The Magic went 3-1 on a short road trip and not lost a home game yet this season. Will the Magic continue to take care of home?

The Orlando Magic are continuing to surprise the NBA. After pulling out the win at Memphis Orlando improved to 6-2 tieing for the leagues best record with the Boston Celtics. The Chicago Bulls are a team in complete rebuild mode and are currently 1-5. The Orlando Magic have to be careful not to take the Bulls lightly. Orlando will face the Celtics on Sunday and very well may be playing for the best record in this early NBA season. Not overlooking the will be the focus for this team tonight. Here are a few things to look out for in tonight’s matchup.

Point Guard Play

The Orlando Magic have ruled out Elfrid Payton and DJ Augustin for this game. That leaves the Magic with Shelvin Mack as the lone point guard available. With injuries to the first and second string point guards Coach Frank Vogel will need to be creative with his lineups tonight. Orlando has used some lineups where there was no true point guard on the court. Jonathon Simmons has walked the ball up court and initiated some offense for Orlando for stretches and will probably see even more of that tonight. Regardless of who is playing point guard for the Magic tonight, Orlando should dominate at that position. Look for the Orlando Magic to control the game at the point guard spot.

Rebounding

The Chicago Bulls are the third best rebounding team in the NBA. The Magic are currently ranked 18th. Chicago also gives up the third most rebounds to its opponents. Orlando has really struggled to keep opposing teams off the glass and end possessions. Although Chicago is dead last in points per game (90) Orlando cannot give up second-chance points. Orlando has to make a conscious effort to get rebounds off of missed shots particularly on the defensive end.

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Pace

Without the services of a second point guard, the Magic will likely push the ball even more tonight. The point guard directs the offense and gets everyone into position. Having Aaron Gordon, Jonathon Simmons or Terrence Ross grab the rebound off of a miss will lead to transition buckets instead of looking to setup a play. The Bulls are third from the bottom in pace, hence the low amount of points per game. The Magic love to run and will get started early going up and down the court. Getting baskets in transition instead of running set plays will be a must tonight. Look for the Magic to push the pace early and often.

Post Game Reactions: Orlando Magic at New Orleans Pelicans

On the second night of a back to back, the Orlando Magic came out firing on all cylinders. The Magic picked up a big victory in New Orleans over the Pelicans 115-99.

The Orlando Magic have gotten off to a monster start to the season. They scored over 110 points in every game so far this year. Last nights victory placed this year’s team in the Magic record bookend for total points scored through the first 7 games. Going into this game the biggest concern for the Magic was holding All-Stars Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins to sub-par games. In the end, the Magic were able to get half the job done.

DeMarcus Cousins who was named the Western Conference player of the week was held well below his averages. Cousins who is averaging 33.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game was held to 12 points and 12 rebounds. Opposite Cousins, Davis still had a good night tallying 39 points and 10 rebounds. Orlando was able to get past the big night from Davis with team ball and get the win.

Bench Contribution

Orlando got some great minutes out of their bench. The Magic bench scored 44 points while New Orleans benched recorded 21 points. A lot of the bench production can be attributed to Jonathon Simmons. Simmons heads up that second unit and gets things started on the defensive end. Outside of the starting five, Simmons is the most consistent scorer the Magic have. Hence, him tieing for the leading scorer for Orlando in this game with 20 points to keep Orlando afloat. Aside from Simmons, Marreese Speights exploded from 3point range. As a result, Speights shot 6 of 10 from deep five of those baskets coming within a 5-minute span. Speights dropped dagger after dagger as New Orleans tried to stay in the game. The barrage of threes electrified the Orlando Magic and helped them seal the game.

Efficiency

The Magic have been a stellar team in terms of efficiency this season. As a result, last night Orlando shot 50.6 % from the field and 46.1 % from behind the arch. Not having a true go-to guy makes this efficient work so much more impressive. Consequently, the Magic are not leaning on one guy to have a big night while others fill in. Furthermore, everyone on the roster is capable of having a big night and Orlando has done a good job of feeding the hot hand.

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Rebounds

The Orlando Magic have not been the best rebounding teams in the league. Finally, on this night, Orlando was able to put rebound the Pelicans 50-47. Securing rebounds helped the Magic end possessions and limit second-chance points. Orlando rebounded well as a team. Most noteworthy, Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 8 rebounds while Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon grabbed 7 each. Orlando needs these type of numbers consistently to keep their up-tempo pace by getting rebounds and going up court quickly. Rebounding helps Orlando to get into their offense and should be a focus for this team.

The next Orlando Magic game is at the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night at 8pm.

Pregame: What to Watch For, Orlando Magic at New Orleans Pelicans

The Orlando Magic are entering the second night of a back to back. Orlando suffered their second loss of the season to a scrappy Charlotte Hornets team. Can they bounce back?

The Orlando Magic will face off against the New Orleans Pelicans tonight in the second game of their three-game road trip. Orlando has gotten some national spotlight and will need this win to keep that momentum going. This road trip will be a bit of a measuring stick for the Magic to evaluate where they are as a team. After getting blowout wins over two perennial powerhouses, the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs, these three games will prove if that was all a fluke. The Magic played a tough game versus Charlotte but could not slow down Kemba Walker. Tonight, Orlando will be tested in the frontcourt by Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins. They have to respond in this game to validate the previous blowout wins.

Secure Rebounds

In last nights loss, the Orlando Magic got manhandled on the glass. The Hornets outhustled the Magic picking up 59 rebounds to Orlando’s 40. Those rebounds often led to points. The Magic must do a better job of ending possessions if they want to win tonight.

Double trouble

The New Orleans Pelicans feature two of the leagues premier big men in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Davis and Cousins tend to have great games when facing the Magic. So far this season Cousins is averaging 32.3 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. Davis is averaging 25.4 points and 13 rebounds per game. Keeping these two under control will be quite a task for the Orlando Magic.

Look for the Magic to possibly go with a quicker lineup to coral Davis and Cousins. Rookie Jonathan Isaac will play an important role covering Davis with his length and athleticism. Khem Birch also has the agility to add a little more size than Isaac to possibly matchup with Cousins. The traditional bigs on the Magic roster(Vucevic and Biyombo) are just a tad bit slower than the Pelican duo and that might cause a problem on the defensive end. They are also a little bigger than Aaron Gordon and could cause him to get into foul trouble. Birch and Isaac should see plenty of game time tonight.

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Points in the Paint

The New Orleans Pelicans are ranked second in the league in points in the paint with 52.3 points per game. To add on to that stat, the Pelicans score 47.6 % of their points in the painted area. New Orleans will look to get the ball near the rim to say the least. The Orlando Magic have allowed the most points in the paint in the league at 53.3 points per game. Look for the Pelicans to go to the paint early and often. How will Orlando adjust to cover up their biggest weakness against New Orleans biggest strength?

 

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