The Orlando Magic are 24-32 and are in 8th place in the Eastern Conference going into Monday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. This game critical for the Magic because they are chasing the Nets for seventh place in the standings and the chance to avoid the Milwaukee Bucks in the opening round of the playoffs.
Now a team without some of their key defensive parts (Jonathan Issac and Al-Farouq Aminu) for the rest of the season, the team is going to have band together in order to return to the playoffs for consecutive seasons. (The team went to the playoffs for six straight seasons from 2006-2012)
With a schedule that should break in the Magic’s favor, (the next 5 games are against teams under .500 on the season) Orlando should be able to find away to get themselves in striking distance of Brooklyn before St Patrick’s Day. But question for Magic fans is how do can they do it?
I have two simple solutions.
- Get Terrance Ross to shoot 45 percent or higher in each game
Nicknamed “The Human Torch”, Ross can get hot at any time. Normally when he does, the Magic’s chances of winning increases. Orlando is 12-6 this season when he shoots over that percentage this season. For a team that has a problem scoring points, every shot that he takes could prove to be vital. During those games he’s also shooting 62 for 128 (48.4%) from downtown as well.
The best way to get Ross the best shot possible is getting people to set him screens and letting him become and a catch and shoot player. Even though he’s under his 39% number from last season, Ross is his most dangerous when he’s coming off screens and getting wide open looks. He’s shooting 24.1% when he’s pulling up compared to 35% in the catch in shoot situation this season.
On a second unit that has Khem Birch (who is a very good screen setter), Head Coach Steve Clifford must find more ways to get Ross in this situation more often. Even more is that getting him off to a hot start is key as well. He’s shooting 45.5% from the floor and over 50% from downtown in the first quarter when the clock is between the 6-minute mark until it’s 3 minutes left in the quarter. It’s sign that he needs to heat up once he’s inserted in the game.
- Push the Tempo
Orlando is the second worst scoring team in the league and almost 40 percent of their games this season they have scored 100 points or fewer. Orlando’s record is 4-21 in those same games. Even though they are the NBA’s best when it comes to not allowing points (105.7), if you can’t score enough then you can’t win. But when they do push the pace and score over 110 points, their record is 15-1.
The best and most efficient way to push the pace is get the ball in the hands of Markelle Fultz and let him be aggressive. When Fultz’s offensive rating (points produced and or points scored) is over 130 the Magic are 6-2 this season. Allowing Fultz to play at a high speed allows his teammates to play some of their best basketball and gives them more opponents to have easier baskets.