The Blue Bell Would Have Rung Several Times on Magic’s Preseason Road Trip

Magic also played with good pace, in the way they define it
by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - Last week during the team’s training camp, we learned about a blue bell with the Orlando Magic logo on it that is affixed to the wall in a corner of the practice court. Whenever in practice a player makes a “winning play” such as taking a charge, blocking a shot, stretching out to deflect a pass or diving on the floor for a loose ball, the bell gets rung.

Although we assume the bell didn’t travel with the team on the Magic’s now-wrapped up two-game preseason road trip, if it was it would have been utilized a fair amount in both Boston and New Orleans.

The Magic have the personnel to rank high in blocks this season. The team’s three centers – Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr. and Robin Lopez – all do a good job protecting the rim. In the first two exhibition games combined, Orlando totaled 17 rejections. On one defensive possession alone against the Pelicans, the Magic had two of them.

One of the many things to love about rookie Jalen Suggs is his toughness. Maybe it’s that football mentality deriving from his high school days in Minneapolis. Let’s not forget, he was the first athlete in Minnesota history to claim the state’s Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball honors the same season. Undaunted by physicality, the 6-foot-5 dynamic guard dove to the floor a couple times to help his team maintain possession.

Asked during training camp about he and his team taking a lot of charges this season, Cole Anthony emphasized that sacrificing one’s body is a big part of playing good defense. Less than two minutes after entering the game in Boston, the 21-year-old stepped in front of 6-foot-9, 240-pound Al Horford, planted his feet, and drew the charge.

Looking up and down the Magic’s roster, it’s clear this team has incredible length. Teams with a lot of length typically rank high in deflections. It wouldn’t be a big surprise if Orlando finishes this season near the top in that category. One player who thrives at getting his hands on passes is Franz Wagner, who is 6-foot-10 and has around a 7-foot wingspan.

Aside from making these “winning plays,” pacing will also be a point of emphasis throughout the year. And by pacing, that doesn’t necessarily mean playing super-fast. In fact, when asked how he defines pacing, head coach Jamahl Mosley brought up a wide range of things that go into it.

"I love that you asked that question because people do assume that it's just going...playing fast, throwing the ball across the court,” he said. “For us, it's the pace in which you make cuts, the pace in which you come off of a screen. I think it's the pace that – a lot of teams speed you up, but it's doing things with aggression. Making sure that, you know, teams feel you. Defensively, getting to the basketball aggressively. But just offensively being able to push the ball up the floor is one piece of it, but again for me it's about how you come off a screen, how you dive on the back side, how you roll out of a back screen. All those things are very important when it comes to pacing."

In both Boston and New Orleans, the Magic’s movement off the ball was sharp. Several times, Orlando was able to catch the defense napping. One of Terrence Ross’ strengths is making hard baseline cuts, demonstrated in the play below. Key going forward is good screening. The bigs are going to have to set solid screens – on the ball and away from it – for the Magic’s top scorers to get quality looks at the basket.

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