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.

Should The Orlando Magic Be Concerned About Their Ball Movement?

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 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.

Orlando Magic Showing Offensive Improvement Early To Begin NBA Season

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.

 

Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant Has A Simple Explaination For Pay Cut: “It’s My Money”

Kevin Durant took the road less often traveled by remaining with the Golden State Warriors this summer. Durant agreed to terms with the team for another two seasons on a below-market deal.

Kevin Durant understands winning right now far outweighs any amount of money he could’ve signed for this summer. Durant and the Golden State Warriors are favorites once again to win the NBA Championship. While other teams strategically placed themselves to challenge the Warriors, Durant simply did the most by taking less money.

“Well, I’m a smart guy and I want to keep this thing going and looking at Andre and Shaun and Steph — they all should make the most money that they can make and get what they deserve. Because they were all underpaid and I knew at some point they’d want to get what they deserve. So I just took a step back and let the chips fall where they may. Then I took it in my hands. I wanted to keep the team together and I thought it was going to help the ownership bring all the guys back. And on top of that, it’s my money. It’s my decision. I can do what the hell I want with it.”

The Warriors had a busy off-season, as general manager Bob Myers negotiated a five-year supermax deal with Steph Curry and three-year extensions with former NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala and key reserve Shaun Livingston. Durant’s deal includes an opt-out clause after the 2017-18 season that will allow him to work out a long-term deal with the Warriors next summer. If the Warriors are successful in winning another championship next season, the Warriors may have no choice but to offer up on Kevin Durant for the long-term.

Durant understands that winning championships with the Warriors right now will be his best chance to ring hunt. Many around the league expected Durant to return ‘home’ to Oklahoma City to pair up with Russell Westbrook and Paul George or venture to his hometown of Washington D.C. with superstar guard, John Wall. He proved his loyalty to Golden State was about more than just money. He wanted to help other key role players for the team to secure their futures with the team.

If critics wanted money to be the reason for the Warriors demise, then they were disappointed. Durant said critics of his signing were those who wanted to see money break up the team. Other superstars have taken pay cuts in the past to help keep team together for potential championship runs.

“They only [criticized] it because it’s the Warriors and it’s me and they love to hate anything we do right now. A lot of players have [taken pay cuts]. It wasn’t that I wanted the praise. I’ve learned from Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki and how it has helped them over the years, and I thought, if they did it, why can’t I? Why shouldn’t I sacrifice? People wanted the money to break us up and I didn’t want that to happen,” Durant said.

His message to teams on the hunt for the Golden State Warriors was direct “Catch us if you can.”

 

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