The first game of the regular season is in the books for the Orlando Magic. The Magic were able to hold off a late run by the Miami Heat and pick up a 116-109 victory.
The Orlando Magic squared off against the Miami Heat in the Amway Center Wednesday night. A rivalry game that was sure to produce some fireworks did not disappoint. The Miami got off to a good start but were unable to keep the lead as Orlando found their rhythm on offense. The Magic were able to dictate the pace of the game for most of the night and keep the Heat playing catch up. Orlando’s lead of 15 points was cut down to 5 in the fourth quarter as Miami clawed their way back into the game. Magic fans around the country held their breath in preparation for a let down familiar of previous seasons. Orlando was able to breath easy however after Evan Fournier took over on offense and propelled the Magic to a win in the season opener. Here are a few takeaways from the season opener.
Still The Closer
After receiving a new contract last summer Evan Fournier immediately gained more responsibility for the success or failure of the Orlando Magic. Fournier often found himself with the ball in his hand in the closing minutes of games for the Orlando Magic last season. He was and still is the most consistent offensive weapon the Magic have in half-court sets. In the first game of the season, Fournier showed why he was the only Magic starter not to be benched last season. With the game slipping away from the Magic in the closing minutes Fournier was able to mustard up some offense for the Magic. Two driving layups, a big three-pointer and a huge assist to Nikola Vucevic assured the Magic a victory on their home court. While other players like Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, and Jonathon Simmons have received tons of coverage this offseason (and rightfully so) Fournier is still the man for Orlando when its closing time. The way Fournier attacks the defense coming off of a screen is unlike anyone else on the team. Fournier should have the ball in his hands to close out most if not all games.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) October 19, 2017
The defense for the Orlando Magic is not quite where they want it to be, but it is progressing. The Magic gave up more points than they would have liked but there were some good things in the efforts. Individually the Magic did a solid job containing their own man which was a somewhat of a weakness last season. The team did a good job of keeping their hands active and causing deflections. During one Heat possession, Elfrid Payton deflected and stole the ball as his man tried to make a back cut to the basket. That led to a transition basket for Orlando. The very next trip down the court Miami tried the same play against Evan Fournier with the same results. If Orlando can continue to keep their defensive focus they will end up as a top-tier defense.
No Issue on Offense
Coming into the season many believed the Orlando Magic would struggle on the offensive end. Tonight Orlando showed that they can put the ball in the hole with the best of them. The team had a balanced scoring attack and will need contributions like that nightly. The chemistry carrying over from last season is definitely a factor along with the up-tempo pace. After just one game completed it’s too soon to say the Magic have figured it out. However, it is encouraging for a franchise that has not won its season opener since 2012 to get off to a good start.
Orlando Magic next game Friday 7:30pm at the Brooklyn Nets.