Despite Offensive Struggles, Magic Continue to be Solid on Defense

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO – Although offense has been a major struggle most of this season for the Orlando Magic, their defense has been very good – so good that if the season ended today they’d only be the fourth team since 2010 to rank in the top five in four key defensive categories in the same season.

Entering Saturday’s action, the Magic ranked No. 1 in opponent points off turnovers (14.0), No. 3 in opponent second chance points (11.5), No. 5 in opponent fast break points (12.0) and No. 5 in opponent points in the paint (43.9).

The 2010-11 New Orleans Hornets, the 2013-14 Indiana Pacers and the 2018-19 Milwaukee Bucks are the only teams since 2010 to rank in the top five all four of these areas.

The hope for the Magic coming into this year was that they would be an elite defensive team. Despite injuries to several of their top defenders – including Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu – Orlando has indeed been that.

Right now, the Magic have the seventh best defensive rating. All of the teams above them in this category are legitimate title contenders – the Bucks, Raptors, 76ers, Celtics, Lakers and Clippers.

As Orlando Head Coach Steve Clifford has stated at various points this season, the Magic are going to have to improve offensively, though, if they want to make significant progress. Saturday’s loss against Miami was a microcosm of Orlando’s first 49 games. They did their job on the defensive end – holding the Heat to only 32 points in the paint – but couldn’t knock down enough shots down the stretch.

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