The Orlando Magic are now 0-3. While it is too early to panic, the early results have shown some concerning tendencies for the Magic.
The Orlando Magic entered the 2017 season with high expectations. The acquisitions of Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo in the offseason instantly made the Magic look like one of the top defensive teams in the NBA.
This would be how their identity was built. This was their ticket to the Playoffs.
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Early on in the season, the Magic have struggled significantly on the defensive end. It is a reason for serious concern since this team will not win many games this season if their defense is not performing at a high level.
The second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night has been the only bright spot for the Magic through three games.
It was refreshing to see the Magic defense play to its potential, at least for one quarter on Saturday night. The Magic held the Cavaliers to 38.1 percent shooting from the floor and 27.3 percent from behind the art in the fourth quarter.
This effort helped the Magic outscore the Cavaliers by 12 points in the fourth quarter and almost complete an 18-point comeback.
Ultimately though, the Magic defense has been a disappointment in the first three games of the season. They have posted a 107.8 defensive rate, allowing opponents to score 107 points per game while shooting 46.8 percent from the field.
The most concerning stat is the 55.3 points the in the paint per game the Magic defense has allowed so far. The interior defense was expected to be an area of strength for the Magic this season.
The defense has not been as good as advertised. And if this trend continues, this Magic team is in for a very long season.
The problems are not limited to that end though. And that has exacerbated and highlighted the Magic’s problems even more.
The Magic have also struggled significantly on the offensive end.
The team’s offensive rating is a disappointing 93.6 after. This was to be expected since the Magic are experimenting with a new starting lineup featuring Aaron Gordon at the small forward position. Additionally, this team does not feature a true go-to scorer that can carry the offense when things are not working. The Magic are shooting 39.3 perfect from the field and 31 percent from behind the arc.
It is a small sample size, but the Magic have struggled mightily on this end. The offense was expected to struggle, especially early on in the season. But not to this extent.
The offense will look much better once the defense improves and the Magic are able to get on the open floor and score in transition — the Magic currently average 11.3 points per game on fast breaks, 18th in the league. Blocks and steals will help this young team get out on the floor and score easy baskets, which is something that has not happened much through three games.
The bench has also disappointed through the first three games. The Magic invested a lot of money in the offseason to boost their bench production, but that has not been the case so far.
Jeff Green had a great preseason and looked like a terrific offseason pick up. In the first games of the season, Green has struggled with his outside shot, which this team desperately needs. Green is averaging 9.0 points per game, shooting 32 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from behind the arc.
Mario Hezonja struggled in the preseason and it has carried over to the regular season. Hezonja is averaging 6.0 points per game, shooting 29.2 percent from the field and 30.0 percent from behind the arc.
It is not surprising the Magic are winless so far this season when considering these supposed strengths have struggled to coalesce. The defense and the bench production are going to be major factors to the Magic’s success this year.
Early on, both of them have been major disappointments.
The Magic will need to turn it around quick to avoid falling in a hole they cannot recover from. It is still early. These statistics are small sample sizes. Things can still change.
The coaching staff still believes things will come together.