The big thing from Game One that should have impressed on everyone was the pure energy and determination the Magic played with throughout the game. Orlando brought a lot of ferocity and competition to the game. The kind of intensity that was not always there in the course of the season.
It is because it was so inconsistent that you feel like you have to make it a point to this team to do it again.
Orlando matched and exceeded Indiana’s energy level throughout the night and Stan Van Gundy told his team repeatedly that they could not get outworked in this game. If the Pacers are ever caught outworking the Magic for long stretches, the margin for error is too small for the Magic and it will be a long night.
To be sure, Indiana knows that it has to win Game Two to send the series back to Orlando tied and stay in this series. The Magic are sure to get more energy from the home crowd in Amway Center. I would suspect the Pacers are going to come out with a little bit more urgency and a lot more attention to detail.
Whatever Frank Vogel said to them at halftime to wake up their defense certainly worked. The Pacers came out much more aggressive and the Magic struggled to solve it, scoring only 30 points in the second half — the Pacers had only 33, to the Magic’s credit.
Whatever adjustment Stan Van Gundy has planned for Orlando cannot start unless Orlando brings the same kind of effort and intensity that it brought to Game One.
The Magic overcame a lot of their shortcomings on effort alone. There is a lot to fine tune on the defensive end, but that extra effort to rotate and get back on defense and to recover after pick and rolls was incredibly important as Indiana struggled to put the ball intot he basket itself.
Orlando might be completely outmatched in this series. But the Magic cannot allow themselves to be outworked or outhustled in this series. They have to do what they did in Game One and leave everything on the floor. That is how this team has banded together since the Dwight Howard injury and they finally directed it toward the defensive end of the floor Saturday.
The question is: can they do it again?
Stan Van Gundy said that he has not questioned his team’s effort in the last month. The effort has been there. It is the execution and precision and attention to detail that have been sorely missing. It all seemed to come together in one big moment during Saturday’s game — and then especially at the end of the game. Does the team roll it over and build on this momentum?
Without doubt, a Game Two victory would only happen if the team plays with the same extreme effort.
Make Hibbert Work
That does not mean the Magic can just go about things the same way they did Saturday night. One big thing that Orlando wanted to do was get Roy Hibbert into foul trouble and force the offensively troubled Lou Amundson into the game. Even if Amundson does some things better than Hibbert — especially with his energy and offensive rebounding skills — Hibbert’s length gave Orlando a ton of issues.
Glen Davis and Ryan Anderson did a great job pushing farther away from the basket and making him uncomfortable on offense. But on defense, he had free reign in the paint and rang up nine blocks without committing a single defensive foul. He was having a Dwight Howard-like effect on the Magic for a good part of the second half and that led to the team’s struggles to score.
Undoubtedly, Orlando does not want to have the same thing happen again.
So the Magic have to change their attack on Hibbert to make him think a little bit more defensively and play with a little more caution. The idea Saturday was the correct one. Orlando went into the paint without fear, but met a shot blocker that had the right timing and the right aggression to make a big impact.
There are some things individual players can do. Glen Davis giving a good jump stop and pump fake would likely get Hibbert off his feet. Rather than simply rampaging into the lane and flipping up a shot, a simple move like this would do wonders to throwing off Hibbert’s timing. Another thing Davis and other players can do is get their bodies between Hibbert and the ball so that he has to foul to block the shot. This might make the shot a little more difficult but increases the chances of getting fouled. If you go up with the correct hand, it should not increase the difficulty of the shot too much either.
The other thing the team can do is bring a cutter from the weak side to sneak in behind where Hibbert is going to be. This would enable the player who draws Hibbert’s attention to sneak the ball around him for an easier shot. It also gives Orlando a secondary option on offense and a way to make the defense pack the paint more to free up shooters.
Either way, the goal has to be to continue to attack Hibbert and to make him work and think defensively.
Mixing the Doubles Up
One thing Stan Van Gundy’s defenses have always taken pride in is that they rarely double team any player. Rather, the team relies a lot more on strong rotations and team principles to choke off dribble penetration and chase shooters off the 3-point line. When the Magic defense is working right, you will see players take on zone defense responsibilities when they are off the ball, always in a position ready to help with the ballhandler or to cover the primary passing option.
This goes a lot better when you have Dwight Howard back there to clean up a lot of mistakes.
With this crew though, Van Gundy has made the decision to double pretty much every post player and take the risk that the Pacers will not hit enough 3-pointers to win the series. Still, Orlando does not have a lot of experience doubling and some of the team’s double teams were not particularly clean.
I would suspect the Pacers will try to exploit David West’s versatility more and try and dump the ball into Roy Hibbert more. And they likely will see on the tape how the Magic converged on them almost immediately and sometimes over played the double.
Indiana got some very good looks from beyond the arc that the team just did not hit consistently. There will be a bigger emphasis on interior passing, cutting and making those shots in Game Two.
So Van Gundy has to keep having the defense mix things up. Orlando has to keep Indiana’s big players off balance by doubling immediately on some possessions, doubling on the first dribble or on the move on others. And then occassionally, faking a double or going single coverage. Orlando has to continue to keep Indiana off balance and try to eliminate this matchup advantage.
Glen Davis did a great job against Roy Hibbert, but just like you do not expect him to get nine blocks in Game Two, you do not expect him to get only eight points either. If Davis and Anderson can continue to be physical, the doubling issue will become a lot easier because Hibbert and West will not be in positions to score. I suspect that Indiana will go to David West more in Game Two, putting a lot more on Ryan Anderson who is an improving defender but not where he needs to be quite yet.