This Is A Major Reason Why The Orlando Magic Are One Of The Hottest Teams Again

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO - The Orlando Magic are 11-4 in their last 15 games. That’s tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves for the third-best record during this stretch. Ironically enough, two of Orlando’s wins in this time were against the T-Wolves and Cavs – both on the road, in fact. 

So, you might be wondering, what is driving this latest Magic surge? 

Obviously, there are many things they are doing well. But the most glaring of them all is also the simplest of them all, which is that opponents are just not getting many shots up against them. 

Take Orlando’s most recent victory as an example. The Utah Jazz, who are averaging 90.5 shot attempts this season – eighth most in the league – got up just 80 floor shots against the Magic. It was the 18th time this season an Orlando opponent took 80 or fewer shots. 

No team has prevented their opponent from taking more than 80 shots from the field more times than the Magic. There are eight teams, in fact, that have only done this twice this season. The last 15 games, specifically, opponents of the Magic are averaging a league-low 81.5 shot attempts, including just 30.7 3-pointers, which are second fewest.

So, now you might be wondering, what is the cause of this? 

There are three main things: patience on offense, forcing opponent turnovers, and securing rebounds.

As far as patience on offense, it’s just simple math. If you burn more time off the clock on offense, there will be less time on the clock for the other team to score at a rapid rate.

Over these last 15 games, the Magic are averaging the fourth-most shot attempts with four seconds or less on the shot clock and the fifth-most shots with between four and seven seconds remaining. Conversely, they are attempting the second-fewest shots with between 18 and 22 seconds left on the shot clock and the third-fewest with between 15 and 18 seconds left.

During this stretch, the Magic are playing at the league’s second slowest pace. That may sound like a negative thing, but actually, it’s often a positive. It’s become increasingly clear that when the game is being played super-fast, it’s nearly impossible for teams to establish their half-court defense, which may explain why teams like the Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, Jazz and Detroit Pistons – all top 10 in pace for the season – are five of the worst defensive teams in the league. 

Forcing opponent turnovers has been a Magic strength all year. They’ve gotten even better at this recently, The last 15 games, in fact, they rank No. 1 in the league in this category. This is a group, collectively, that just a knack for poking the ball away from ball handlers and getting their hands in passing lanes. 

Most important is that many of these opponent turnovers are live-ball turnovers. When that happens, that means the opponent didn’t get a shot up on that possession. Take the win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday as an example. The Nets committed nine live-ball turnovers that night at Kia Center, an extremely high number. 

Then, of course, there’s the rebounding. There’s nothing more deflating than giving the other team a second or third chance to score on the same trip down the floor. The Magic are among the best at avoiding this. Opponents are averaging just 9.3 offensive rebounds against them for the season, second fewest, and just 8.2 these last 15 games, also second fewest in this timeframe.

So, even though in these last 15 games opponents are shooting 48.7 percent from the field, which is a fairly high mark, they’re averaging just 107.6 points, the third fewest in this span. 

The bottom line is that the Magic play a brand of basketball that has a winning formula. Few teams do what they do, making them unique. It’s also a style that aligns with playoff basketball. So if they get in, which if the season ended today they would, they’ll be prepared for what’s to come. 

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