Magic Waste No Time Flexing Their Defensive Muscles

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic held their opponent to under 40 percent shooting from the field nine times last season. They won each of those games, which is what typically happens when the opposition fails to reach 40 percent. NBA teams collectively in 2018-19 won just 13 percent of games when shooting lower than that mark.

In the Magic’s season opener on Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers shot 37.1 percent, an excellent sign considering many project Orlando to be one of the league’s best defensive teams. The Cavs also shot just 26.5 percent from 3-point distance, not a huge surprise considering Orlando ranked No. 1 in the league in opponent 3-point percentage from Jan. 31 until the end of last season when it went 22-9.

Several of the Magic’s top plays on Wednesday came when they scored in transition following making a great defensive play. Creating offense through their defense will be critical this year, especially since that was something they didn’t do nearly enough of last season, ranking 24th in points off turnovers and 28th in transition offense.

Although they finished with just 11 points off Cleveland’s 16 turnovers, the fact that the Magic made a concerted effort to push the pace following defensive stops was encouraging. Orlando finished with 12 steals, nearly six more than last year’s season average.

Without a doubt, the Magic have the personnel and coaching to rank among the very best in just about every defensive category in 2019-20. Wednesday’s win was a good start to making that happen.