Magic's 3-Point Defense Continues to be Terrific

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - Of all the stats highlighting just how good the Magic’s defense has been the last couple months, the 3-point percentage logged by Orlando's opponents stands out the most.

How well a team guards the 3-point line may actually be more crucial than how many threes they make or how accurate they are from deep, even though it's worth noting that the Magic have a good 3-point percentage themselves over the last several weeks.

If the season ended today, 10 of the top 13 teams in opponent 3-point percentage would make the playoffs, with the Sixers, Orlando’s opponent on Monday, leading that category and the Nets and Rockets right behind.

The Magic, although eighth for the season, rank No. 1 in this area since Jan. 31, a period in which Orlando has won 16 of its 23 games with its opponents collectively shooting 30.1 percent from downtown.

Monday’s victory was just another example of how stout the Magic have been around the perimeter. Philadelphia made six of its 23 3-point attempts (26 percent), including going 3-of-16 in the second half when the Magic outscored the 76ers by 24.

J.J. Redick, who is shooting a shade over 39 percent from 3-point range this season, connected on just one of his seven attempts, while Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris went 0-of-4 combined and nobody on the Sixers made more than one.

It was the seventh time in the last eight games that Orlando’s opponent didn’t eclipse 30 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The last time a team shot at least 40 percent against the Magic from distance was on Feb. 22 when the Bulls shot 41.4 percent.

Adding Michael Carter-Williams, whose length often interferes with shots taken by opposing guards, has certainly helped, as has the team’s overall versatility.

Also interesting, the Magic have a combined winning record against the Eastern Conference’s top five teams. They are 9-6 against those clubs, with two wins each against the Celtics, Raptors, Pacers and Sixers and one victory over the Bucks.

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