Stan Van Gundy said there will be subtle changes to the rotation, but no changes to the starting lineup. Van Gundy still plans to start the same five he has started throughout this series.
That does not mean there will not be adjustments after the team struggled to create offense in Game Three.
“There is always adjustments you can make and there will be from game to game,” Stan Van Gundy said. “We’re through 69 games, we’re not going to change everything we do. You can put in something here or there or change a defensive scheme here or there. It’s going to be subtle stuff. We didn’t put in a whole new offense today.”
Indeed, it feels sometimes that the Magic need an entirely new offense with the way the Pacers have dominated this series. Orlando has scored 80 points just once in the series — the 81 points the team put up to win Game One. Orlando has struggled to get good shots and consistently to get a consistent offensive rhythm.
Orlando does not seem dispirited though. This is a veteran team, after all, that has been through several playoff battles. This is still a 2-1 series and the Magic still have a chance to tie the series with a victory in Saturday’s Game Four.
“It’s not over yet. We’ve got a game at home and a chance to play them here,” Glen Davis said. “We know that we’re one game away from tying up and being 0-0. That’s what they did. we can do the same thing. The team is in a good state of mind, we’re just real anxious. We’re ready to play.”
Stan Van Gundy said the Magic know the task ahead of them. The spirit and the fight is there for this team. He said most of the players were embarrassed by what they saw on film in Game Three, saying it was worse than they probably thought. He said motivation will not be a problem heading into Game Four.
So what will the Magic do in Game Four to break this defensive spell the Pacers seem to have?
Stan Van Gundy said the team has to improve its spacing to free up some of those shooters and get those opportunities for shots — especially from beyond the arc — that the team covets. The Magic are not getting the same quality looks without Dwight Howard in the post. That was to be expected. But it seems sometimes that the team is struggling to get a shot.
In Game Three, the Magic took just 15 3-point attempts. They put up 25 and 24 in the first two games of the series, much more in line with their season average even without Dwight Howard. The 15 3-point attempts represent the fewest 3-point attempts Orlando has taken in a game since December 18, 2010 (a loss to Philadelphia, if you care to know). The Magic have taken 15 3-point attempts or fewer in just six games since Stan Van Gundy became head coach.
“I think the reason we’re taking fewer 3-pointers is they are not coming off the 3-point line,” Stan Van Gundy said. “The way we open up 3-pointers is you get people to have to put two guys on the ball at some point either on a pick and roll, a post up or a drive where you get help, and then you put them in rotation. Because of their defensive gameplan, their defensive ability and size to execute we haven’t gotten those situations where we have gotten a lot.”
The Magic may not have a number of 3-point attempts in their heads for every game they enter, as Van Gundy said Friday. But it is very much a part of their identity. And something Orlando relies on for its success to some extent. The Magic have to execute their gameplan and make the shots that are there.
The 3-pointers may not be there because of what the Pacers are giving the Magic and the fact that Dwight Howard is not there sucking in defenses with his post ups and rolling on the pick and roll. The number of 3-pointers may not be important, but the team’s spacing and the quality of the shots the team has taken are areas of concern for the Magic.
Orlando has to find a way to draw defenders to them and make the right play to get the best shot. Roy Hibbert is sort of playing center field right now and the other defenders are sticking tight to shooters. It has made things very difficult for the Magic.
This team is far from losing faith in the offense though. There are just adjustments that it has to make to crack this defense and even this series.
“There has to be a focus,” Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s not the old cliche of who wants it more. You have to play well. You have to do things right. You have to execute. There are a lot of things that go into winning a game and playing hard is just the first one.”
That is not saying it will be easy.
The Pacers were the 10th best defensive team in the league by defensive rating according to HoopData this season. Their length and size, especially in the post, has given the Magic troulbe as they try desperately to pick and roll the team to death. Quite simply, even when indiana does have to commit a second player to cut off dribble penetration, they are doing a great job recovering and rotating back out to prevent 3-point shots or a complete reset of the offense.
This has led to players often being mismatched or overloading one side of the floor. That makes the defense’s job a lot easier when they have to recover or trap pick and rolls. Indiana is very set in its rotations.
One thing Van Gundy and Orlando plan and hope to improve on the offensive end is that floor spacing.
Hopefully by getting Glen Davis some extended breaks — Van Gundy said his energy level certainly waned as the game went on and his focus on the defensive end was lacking as the game wore on and his minutes piled up — and making those adjustments to the team’s spacing the Magic will finally be able to get the ball in the hole.
Game Four is a fresh chance for the Magic.
“You’ve got to have a good perspective about things and realize that each game is just as valuable as the game before and just as valuable as the game ahead,” J.J. Redick said. “As long as we value Saturday, and for what it is, it’s a chance to tie the series.”
That is the point of the game, after all, and the Magic will need to do that to win Game Four.