Magic Excelled Guarding Perimeter in Preseason

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO – Although the Magic struggled offensively in Friday’s preseason finale against the Spurs, making just 37 percent of their shot attempts, the team’s defense was solid, again.

For the third consecutive game, Orlando held its opponent to 41 percent shooting. San Antonio scored just 28 points in the paint, generated only four fast break points and shot 32 percent from 3-point distance.

By and large, the Magic did an excellent job guarding the perimeter throughout the preseason, something they hope translates when the games start to count in the standings.

Considering every team that ranked in the top 13 in opponent 3-point percentage last season won at least 35 games and with 10 of those clubs advancing to the playoffs, there’s no denying just how important it is to be among the elite when it comes to shutting other teams down from beyond the arc.

Aside from the fact that opponents made just 48 of its 147 3-point attempts (32.7 percent) against Orlando throughout the exhibition schedule, the Magic should be encouraged knowing they come into this season having been fairly good in this category last year. The Magic ranked 14th in defensive 3-point percentage in 2017-18 and eighth in both opponent threes made and attempted.

The length and athleticism this team has along with having a defensive guru in Steve Clifford at the helm gives Orlando a great chance to climb even higher in these extremely significant defensive areas.

There are going to be nights – like what transpired Friday – when the Magic can’t buy a bucket and must rely on their defense to keep them in games. Pressuring ball handlers, rotating around the arc, closing out and contesting jumpers are key, and the Magic, overall, did a tremendous job sticking to those basic defensive principles in the preseason.

Watch three outstanding defensive possessions from the Magic during Friday’s contest: