- LA PREDICTION DU DBUT DE SAISON
We had predicted the penultimate place of the Eastern Conference with 25 victories in the preview of the season read here.
Once is not custom, big plantade to analyze the Mickey gang. Announced borderline playoffs by us the seasons before, the Magic had a pleasure to squat the last places. And when finally, we place them at the bottom, the Floridians invite themselves the post-season. Promised next season, we’ll take the 50/50 or we’ll call a friend!
Leaders: DJ Augustin, Michael Carter-Williams, Jerian Grant, Isaiah Briscoe
Arrires: Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, Melvin Frazier
Wingers: Jonathan Isaac, Wesley Iwundu
Strong wingers: Aaron Gordon, Jarell Martin, Amile Jefferson
Pivots: Nikola Vucevic, Mohamed Bamba, Khem Birch
- SEASON’S FIGURES
Ranking: 7th in the Eastern Conference, 1st in the SouthEast Division
Offensive Rating: 108.9 pts scored on 100 possessions (22nd in the NBA)
Defensive Rating: 108.2 pts collected on 100 possessions (8th in the NBA)
Best scorer: Nikola Vucevic with 20.8 points per game
Best rebounder: Nikola Vucevic with 12.0 rebounds per game
Best passer: DJ Augustin with 5.3 assists per game
Best interceptor: Nikola Vucevic with 1.0 interceptions per game
Best blocker: Mohamed Bamba with 1.4 against per match
Best percentage: Khem Birch with 60.3% on shots.
Like every year since the post reconstruction Dwight Howard, the Magic has found a new coach. Vir by the Hornets, Steve Clifford Orlando arrives in a franchise that he knows well for having been an assistant between 2007 and 2012. A return to the fold which certainly plays a part in the very rapid adaptation of his system to the team. Respect by all, Clifford breathes new life into a band that has been around for too long. No more fast play, place a more relaxed basketball (24th in league) with ball movement and the emphasis on defense and rebound, two areas where the Magic enters the Top 10 NBA. At the center of trade rumors with the draft of In Bamba, Nikola Vucevic will become the central part of the collective Clifford’s request. A winning bet, since the Montngrin will be by far the most consistent player in attack with the added bonus of his first All Star canvas.
Even with these new precepts, the Magic season will be far from being a long quiet river. In the first 10 games of the season, Orlando does not exceed 100 points scored 6 times. The attack will take a long time to build up while the defense allows for some victories. In early December, the Magic presented a record of 12 wins for 12 losses. But, as very often the period before All Star Game is complicated for the Floridians who enchanter 19 losses for 9 successes until the beginning of the month of February. The race for the playoffs is moving away at high speed for the group with defeats against Phoenix, Chicago or Washington who are cheating.
The break from All Star Game is going to do the Magic a lot of good. The front office take advantage of the trade deadline for change Jonathon Simmons against Markelle Futlz, even if the latter will not participate in the season. On the other hand, the late recruitment of Michael Carter-Williams will already be much more interesting, especially on the defensive level where its size brings a real plus compared to DJ Augustin. With 8 victories in 10 matches straddling February and March, the Magic is back in the post-season race. The battle is being played out between Miami, Washington and Charlotte for the last spot. Orlando will, then, produce an incredible run in which the team will hit the Warriors, Celtics, Raptors and Sixers: 11 wins out of the last 13 games, biggest series in the Eastern Conference to end the season, Orlando will seek energy for its qualification. The attack is passed from 105.8 points scored before ASG 111.2 points after. As for the defense, it improved further, conceding only 106.0 points. It is the defensive base set up by Clifford that has borne fruit in this crazy race for the playoffs.
After a 7-year absence, Orlando entered the arena with a knife between his teeth against the future winners of the trophy. For several seasons, the Raptors have been feverish in Game 1 of the playoffs … and it is not the presence of Kawhi Leonard which will reverse the trend. Vicious in defense, the Magic grabs the premises and leads the break (49-57). The reaction of the Canadians was not long in coming and the second period offered a magnificent hunt that ended with the first buzzer-beater of the 2019 playoffs: comfortable throughout the match (25 points 9/13 on shots), DJ Augustin crucifies Toronto with a prim shot. The Florida point guard is the X factor of the encounter and leaves Kyle Lowry in his back pocket without the slightest point inscribed. This cold shower will have the merit of serving as a dtonator to the Raptors who will fly over the rest of the discussions. The defense of Marc Gasol on Vucevic is the key to the series. Brid in attack, the Montngrin only shoots 36.2% for 11.2 points on average. Ditto for the rear pair Evan Fournier (12.4 points 34.8%) and Terrence Ross (13.2 points 37%) tuft by the duo Danny Green – Kawhi Leonard. Only Aaron Gordon pulled out of the game with a defense applied to the future MVP of the Finals and a reliable offensive presence (15.2 points 46.8%).
- THE BIG MOMENT OF THE SEASON
Boston on April 7, 2019, penultimate game of the season for the Magic, who must beat the outside world to stamp their playoff ticket. Vavane and Vooch who have been waiting for this for so long will be the two spearheads of the Magic: 24 points for the Frenchman, 25 points and 12 rebounds for his buddy All Star. The other experienced players are not left out with a season-high pass from DJ Augustin (13 assists) and a cardboard balltrap version from Terrence Ross out of the bench (26 points with 5 shots prims). Concentrated on their goal, the Floridians achieve a faultless in this match on the repair line (22/22 in the LF) and resist the return of the C’s at the end of the match. At the end of the meeting, coach Steve Clifford will thank his players for their diligence and their constant progress throughout the season.
- WORST MOMENT OF THE SEASON
At the beginning of February, a little before the reception of the Nets, the Magic rookie, Mohammed Bamba was declared out. Victim of a stress fracture in the tibia, the interior will not replay the season. With only forty games on the clock, it is still difficult to gauge its impact. Limit 16 minutes of playing time by the production of the holder Nikola Vucevic, Bamba still showed dazzling against and rebound. Reported over 36 minutes, his statistics speak for him: 13.7 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. With his atypical profile, the rookie must have been one of the sensations of his tank. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until next season. To wait for some highlights!
– Nikola Vucevic en mode All Star : The arrival of Steve Clifford has metamorphosed Vucevic. The coach has managed to maximize his impact on offense as the inside fixation point. Able to sanction closely with his hook shot (71% success at one meter from the circle), Vooch has also become a long distance meteor (36.5% 3 points). And as his vision of the game remains excellent for a big man, the All Star pivot has quite simply broken all his career records including the pass: 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists. On the other side of the floor, Clifford asked him to be more aggressive and willful. Without having become a dissuasive pivot, Vooch got the message and had a full season in defense with 1.0 interceptions and 1.1 blocks per game.
– La rsurrection de Human Torch : Seriously injured last year (broken tibia and sprained knee), Terrence Ross is back to his best. Used as an offensive joker, he did not hesitate to light the match with more than 7 3-point attempts per game, far from leading the Magic in this exercise. With 38.3% success, he would have been wrong to do without. Evenings with a warm hand, Human Torch was the X factor of the team and a game changer. 20 games over 20 points, 4 others over 30 units, 16 times Orlando’s top scorer, Ross is the 6th best scorer off the bench this season in the NBA. With record averages in scoring, rebounds and assists, the swingman has finally shown consistency in his performance.
– Jonathan Isaac’s progression : Preview only 27 games last year, Jonathan Isaac really started his career this season. Even if his offensive potential is only in its infancy, his production in defense has already allowed him to earn his title. With his wingspan, Isaac permanently obstructs the passing lines (1.1 steal) and protects the opposing penetrations towards the circle (1.3 block). A very useful Swiss army knife in the roster which benefited from the presence of experienced players to gradually gain confidence.
– The team’s ceiling level : With the Magic executives (Vucevic, Fournier, Augustin, Ross) who are in their prime, the lever for progress remains limited Orlando. The team has perfectly reiterated the lines of Clifford to reach the playoffs, but the intrinsic talent of the group suffers from the comparison with the other big curies of the Eastern Conference. Vucevic is certainly an All Star but is not the Franchise Player able to carry the Magic to the top. It still lacks LA ppite Orlando to hope to go higher … with a n ° 1 of draft frankly collected, you never know?
– L’absence d’un rel playmaker : Without offending DJ Augustin who probably had his most successful season in his career, this team still lacks a real creator. Augustine is great at controlling the tempo of Magic, but lacks the ideal playmaking skills for the team. With 5.2 assists per game, DJ is 23rd in this sector among the NBA leaders. As for Fournier and Gordon, they have certainly made progress in the past, but above all they remain creators for themselves. Adding a ball handler able to produce for others could make Orlando pass a milestone.
– Lack of spacing : Apart from Terrence Ross who is a specialist in shots from the refreshment bar, the Magic lacks patent shooters. In an era where spacing is mandatory to shoot the game, Orlando doesn’t have the safest triggers in the league. Augustin comes out with honors (42% far), but behind it is too intermittent, especially among the holders: Fournier (34%), Gordon (34.9%) and Isaac (32.3%).
Author of an irregular exercise, Orlando made a big run at the end of the course to hook the wagon of the post-season and thus end the largest period without playoffs in the history of the franchise. Steve Clifford was able to empower the team’s executives (Fournier, Vucevic, Augustin) while developing the young people, Aaron Gordon (23) and Jonathan Isaac (21) in the lead. The resulting mixture certainly did not revolutionize the Eastern Conference, but managed to find a balance around a very tight defense.
- TOP OF THE SEASON: BEST OF Nikola Vucevic