The Magic traveled down to Miami to face the division rival Miami Heat for preseason game number six. The results were not encouraging.
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These preseason results should make Frank Vogel ask one question.
The Orlando Magic made their way to Miami, but left their identity in Orlando in what most figured would be a favorable matchup for the Magic.
The Magic lost a preseason game to a rebuilding Dwayne Wade-less, Hassan Whiteside-less Miami Heat team 107-77 at American Airlines Arena on Tuesday.
The game started off in the Magic’s favor with a strong first quarter. But then the Heat just took it to the Magic, playing without Bismack Biyombo (rest) and Aaron Gordon (ankle).
The Magic looked like a team that looked at the Heat roster and thought they could just walk out there and get a win without the type of effort they put forth the other night.
It is clear the Magic will have to protect the rim a lot better than they did tonight against a Whiteside-less Heat squad. The Heat were aggressive defensively all night long and looked like the better defensive squad. The Heat scored 54 points in the paint and shot 51.2 percent form beyond the arc, including 10 3-pointers.
This Magic team cannot afford to allow their defense to crack like it did tonight, especially against a team most critics do not have making this year’s postseason.
Fortunately these games do not count. But once Oct. 26 arrives, the Magic will need to find what type of team they want to be.
Frank Vogel said the team was moving half speed and it looked that way throughout the entire game. The defense was a step slow closing out to the 3-point line for the second straight game, and it is beginning to look like a recurring theme.
The defense cannot afford to start slow and be irrelevant if the Magic plan on making the playoffs in 2017.
Serge Ibaka looked the part, although his number slightly declined against a less inferior team. He still led the team in scoring with 15 points, nine rebounds and one block.Ibaka’s effort on the offensive end was good tonight. He was effective crashing the boards and he will need to continue to get offensive boards for more scoring opportunities for his team. He also hit a 3-pointer in transition that looked good from its release point so the Magic may need to look for him more trailing on the perimeter.
This may be the formula for a team lacking an offensive identity. Getting high percentage shots and crashing the boards for additional shot attempts.
Ibaka’s overall defense was good. But I believe there is still another level he can elevate to. He clearly missed his swat brother Bismack Biyombo tonight as the defense was not as dominant as it was the other night against the Atlanta Hawks.
Nikola Vucevic looked like a player who has a lot of confidence in his outside shot. The thing is he is more efficient inside of the paint with his arsenal of low post moves.
Vucevic is in a situation where the coaches are attempting to see how the team starts and ends games. He cannot afford to play tentative on defense this year.
Teams are still not afraid to attack Vucevic when he mans the paint and they are still finding ways to finish over and around him, despite his improved defensive positioning. Even then, Vucevic is not Biyombo.
Vucevic held his own defensively on occasion, but the consistency on the defensive end is where he struggled tonight. Vucevic finished with eight points and three rebounds in 25 minutes.
The more I watch the preseason, the more I feel like Evan Fournier is the most important player on this team. Tonight he looked like the leader of a struggling offense.
His individual offense game seems to keep growing each and every time he takes the court. He has to judged critically, because this team really needs him to be their primary scorer and hit that 20 point-per-game mark.
In this matchup against the Heat, Fournier was not as effective in the first quarter as he was in prior games. Fournier may need to start games scoring early and often for this team to become successful. He finished with 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting, a decidedly off night.
The Orlando Magic failed to beat a rebuilding Miami Heat team despite the Heat playing without their $98-million center in the starting lineup and their prized draft pick from last year.
The Heat deserve all the credit for holding down their home court in blow out fashion. The next step for the Heat is to put it all together with the spotlight on Hassan Whiteside and the young guys surrounding him.
The Heat were excellent on the defensive end tonight as they had no problem showing effort and closing out on the Magic’s perimeter shooters. Orlando shot just 33.7 percent and made just 2 of the team’s 19 3-point attempts. The Heat can build on this preseason win by continuing to play good defense like they did tonight and hitting the three ball with consistency.
There are not many excuses fans are going to want to hear about developing a chemistry on the offensive end for a team lacking offensive players.
This was not a game the players will enjoy watching on film during the next film session. This was the worst loss of the preseason.
The Magic will need to show better effort on both sides of the court Thursday night versus the New Orleans Pelicans.