Orlando Magic’s Passing Continues to be Terrific at Disney
ORLANDO - Just how good has the Orlando Magic’s ball movement been in the early going of the NBA season restart at Walt Disney World?
Let’s let the numbers tell a portion of the story.
The Magic are the only team at Disney averaging over 30 assists per game. They are averaging the most potential assists, too, which are accumulated when a pass is made to a teammate who shoots within one dribble of receiving the ball.
Although there was a 4 ½ month gap between the Magic’s last game before the hiatus and their two games during the restart, Orlando currently has a three-game streak of racking up over 30 assists. They dished out 31 dimes against the Grizzlies on March 10 and did the same against the Nets and Kings at Disney.
The last time the Magic recorded 30-plus assists in three straight games was in February of 2000. The franchise record for most games in a row with 30 or more of them is five, which the 1994-95 Magic accomplished late in their season.
Orlando has actually amassed 30 or more assists in nine of its last 18 games. That’s quite astonishing, really. Think about this: Neither the 2008-09 Magic, who of course ended up making it to the Finals, or the following year’s squad hit the 30-assist mark in a single regular season game.
Only three teams since Feb. 10 have double-digit wins. One of them is the Lakers, who many consider to be the favorites to win the championship this season. Another is the Pacers, who the Magic will play on Tuesday. And the other is the Magic, who are 10-4 in this time. The only team since Feb. 10 averaging more assists than Orlando is New Orleans.
Something else the Magic are doing a lot of, which is helping them generate high percentage scoring chances, is getting the ball in the paint and playing inside-out. So far at Disney, Orlando is averaging 26.5 paint touches per game, second most behind the 76ers’ 28.5. Even more impressive, though, is that the Magic are averaging the most passes when they get in the paint.
Last season when the Magic won 22 of their final 31 games, it was their defense that was elite. This year, it’s their offense that has been off the charts.
Since Feb. 10, the Magic rank No. 1 in points, No. 2 in field goal percentage, No. 2 in assists, No. 3 in turnovers, No. 7 in 3-point percentage, No. 8 in points off turnovers, No. 8 in points in the paint, No. 9 in second chance points and No. 10 in offensive rebounding percentage.
What’s so incredible about it all is that through the first 19 games this season, the Magic ranked last in scoring and last in 3-point percentage.
Although their defense hasn’t been nearly as stifling as it was down the stretch of last season, it is worth noting that the Magic are the only team in the league who rank in the top 10 in each of the following defensive categories: opponent second chance points (No. 1), opponent points off turnovers (No. 1), opponent fast break points (No. 3) and opponent points in the paint (No. 7).