After a fantastic 6-2 start, the Magic have cooled down substantially. Their record currently stands at 8-8 (9th in the East). The Magic have attempted to evolve into a faster team that is predicated on 3-point shooting and forcing their opponents into a track meet.
Since getting decimated by the Bulls, the Orlando Magic have dropped six of their last eight games. While the team continues to shoot well, opponents have recently exposed their Achilles heel, interior defense. The Magic give up a league-high 51 points in the paint per game have 82 fewer rebounds than their opponents thus far. The Magic’s lack of rebounding has allowed opponents to average 13.9 second-chance points.
While the Magic have without a doubt become a very fun team to watch on league pass for their 11.5 3-pointers made per game and their pace sixth-ranked pace, their simple rating system (SRS: a rating that takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule. The rating is denominated in points above/below average, where zero is average.) currently sits at 20th in the NBA at -1.3.
Roughly 20 percent through the season, the Magic have improved and become a very fun team to watch at the very least. However, if they fail to remedy their atrocious interior defense, being more fun and shooting well from deep does not necessarily mean returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2012 when they were led by Dwight Howard, a player whose game was ironically predicated on rebounding and interior defense.
The Magic’s next test will come tomorrow against the 8-8 Indiana Pacers. The Magic match up well against the Pacers who allow 108.8 points per game, the sixth most in the league. The Magic also have their own rebounding struggles, pulling down 42.9 rebounds per game, the 25th most. The Pacers will also be playing in Orlando on the second night of a back-to-back.
The game will surely mean a little extra for Orlando’s head coach, Frank Vogel who spent five and a half years on the sidelines for the Pacers who were a powerhouse for much of his tenure. The game will tipoff at 7 Eastern Standard time tomorrow in Orlando.