Magic Making Great Strides on Defense

Magic Currently One of Three Teams Who Rank in Top 10 in Four Key Defensive Categories
by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - After limiting the Jazz to just 17 dimes, the Magic are now 7-0 this season when they prevent their opponent from amassing more than 20 assists.

Saturday’s defensive effort, in particular, was impressive considering Utah normally is one of the more unselfish teams in the league, ranking 12th in assists and fourth in secondary assists, which is when the ball is passed to a player who records an assist within one second and without dribbling.

Orlando also registered a season-high 10 blocks, including four by Mo Bamba, three from Jonathan Isaac and two by Nikola Vucevic, who sealed the win with a swat on Donovan Mitchell in the waning moments.

Not much of a surprise considering they feature a long, athletic and versatile frontline, but the Magic have done an excellent job all season protecting the paint. The Jazz only accumulated 34 points in that area, 15 fewer than their season average.

Entering Saturday’s action, Orlando was the only team in the NBA with three players or more (minimum five games played) averaging at least one block per game. Vucevic, Isaac and Bamba all rank in the top 45 in this category.

Another fascinating stat is that the Magic are one of only three teams – the Bucks and Celtics are the other two – who rank in the top 10 in all four of the following categories: Opponent points in the paint, opponent fast break points, opponent second chance points and opponent points off turnovers.

Check out three superb defensive plays from Saturday’s win: