By Josh Cohen Jan. 22, 2018
ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic are playing their best basketball since they were 6-2 to start the season and then 8-4 shortly after. With wins over the Timberwolves and Celtics and near upsets against the Wizards and Cavaliers in their last four games, results are shifting in the Magic’s favor.
So, what has dramatically changed? There are a few things that stand out. For one, as we discussed a few days ago, the Magic are moving the ball exceptionally well. Over the last seven games, they rank third in the league in assists.
Orlando’s off-the-ball activity has been impressive. During this recent stretch, the Magic have accumulated the sixth most assisted cutting layups in the NBA (38).
The most glaring stat of them all is points in the paint, as Orlando ranks first over these last seven games. The Magic have been ultra-aggressive when attacking the basket, and they have done an excellent job not settling for too many contested jumpers.
What’s also interesting is that although the Magic aren’t forcing opponents into a ton of turnovers, they are taking advantage of miscues when they happen. Orlando has averaged 19.3 points off turnovers since Jan. 6.
It’s been ignored for a while, but Elfrid Payton leads all starting point guards in field goal percentage this season and he’s shooting 63 percent from within 10 feet of the basket.
Payton is one of the craftier finishers in the game, and he has a reliable floater when he gets in the paint.
What has been a struggle for the Magic the past month is their 3-point shooting. Over the last 15 games, Orlando is shooting just 30.5 percent from beyond the arc.
If they can combine their terrific ball movement and unselfishness with more dependable outside shooting, the Magic could transform into a mighty offensive team the rest of the season.
Check out a couple plays from this recent road trip that illustrate the Magic’s outstanding movement: