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.

 

Paul George, Indiana Pacers need to follow the Orlando Magic blueprint

Paul George is in for a bumpy road of a season next year in Indiana. George has made it clear he plans to leave for the bright lights of Los Angeles after the 2017-2018 season.

Paul George wanted to make his intentions clear to the Indiana Pacers that he wanted to become a Los Angeles Laker in the summer of 2018.
Paul George could find himself in a Laker’s uniform next year.

 

The Indiana Pacers are in unfamiliar territory.

They find themselves about to watch their superstar small forward leave in free agency after next season. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical, George told the Indiana Pacers he has intentions to play for the Los Angeles Lakers beginning the 2018 NBA season.

The Los Angeles Lakers are setting themselves up for one wild summer in 2018. Rumors of LeBron James heading west surfaced earlier last week.

The Cleveland Cavaliers may have the luxury of waiting another year before deciding how to deal with James’ possible departure. The Indiana Pacers do not have the same fortune. They need to act accordingly and swiftly.

The Case:

The Pacers have a blueprint on how to deal with this type of situation. Look back to 2012 and examine how the Orlando Magic dealt, then, superstar center Dwight Howard. In Trading Disgruntled Superstars For Dummies, former Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan decided a team would be better suited with a litter of young players and future draft picks than watch their star player leave without compensation.

The Pacers would do wise to accept the inevitable. They still have a few options on the table they should explore.

Option 1: Explore a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

If any team has a chance to convince Paul George to stay past his one year rental duration, it would be the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James and his litter of stars could convince George the Cavaliers are capable of dethroning the reigning NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors.

Option two: Send him to the Los Angeles Lakers a year early

The Magic selected option two. The Pacers should do so as well. As of now, the Pacers have not engaged the Lakers for a possible trade but at some point it needs to happen. While Lakers team president Magic Johnson would be reluctant to trade away current and future assets for a player he could sign outright a year later, Johnson would at least hear the pitch as he wants to get the Lakers back to NBA championship relevancy as soon as possible.

Option three: Keep George for the upcoming season

The Pacers last option would be to play out the year and allow George to simply leave without compensation–intentionally. In the short-term that would cripple the franchise but over a five-year span, the Pacers could lose enough games to find themselves with few top five draft picks in successive years. The team could lay out a true rebuilding plan.

By making this move, the Pacers control their future without sacrificing any assets, including potential cap space. They lose out on recouping any assets but they minimize taking back bad players or contracts.

The Probable:

The likely scenario will include the Pacers trading Paul George to the highest bidding team. As of now, the favorites are the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Houston Rockets. In the time being before a trade is made, George would do well to avoid alienating himself from the Pacer’s fan base. His best option is to keep quiet until a deal is made.

The Twist:

In a turn of events, the Portland Trailblazers enter the Paul George sweepstakes and acquire him with a trade of two 2017 1st round picks and a young player.

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