Heat strong-arm Magic

{podcast id=11}

The Miami Heat were at the top of the mountain in the NBA last year, winning their second consecutive championship. The Magic were at the bottom, finishing with the worst record in the league.

One team clearly had its program and its philosophy established. One team is still figuring out what kind of team it is going to be.

It would have been hard to figure out whehther the Heat brought their summer league team or their regular team to Orlando on Tuesday. OK, maybe that is a little far-fetched. But the style the Heat employed looked very familiar.

There was the swarming defense and press that gives team fits during the regula season and lead to easy baskets. There was the constant movement and motion on offense, made even more dangerous by the floor-spreading of the Heat's 3-pointers. There was that constant drive to win and play at a high level.

The Magic were late to that party as they struggled to play against what should be easily seen as the Heat's way, falling 94-80 on Tuesday in the Orlando Pro Summer League.

  Score Off. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
Miami 94 102.6 47.8 34.4 17.5 59.7
Orlando 80 94.6 51.7 16.7 23.4 41.4

The Magic fell behind early, fell further behind in the second quarter and never quite recovered. The Heat really caught the Magic by surprise with their pressure and the team did not react or respond well.

"We pretty much knew how they were going to play defense because that's how Miami plays in the regular season," Maurice Harkless said. "We did exactly what they wanted us to do. We let them speed us up and they controlled the pace.

"It's tough, especially today. They outplayed us from start to finish. One through 15. It's just frustrating to me. I guess it kind of starts with me because I should be a leader on this team. I can't let it happen."

It was easy to see things slipping away even early on. The Magic were lethargic offensively early on with turnovers and fouls plaguing the team early on. They struggled to generate much offense or find a rhythm and that trend continued throughout the first half. It simply took too long for the Magic to find their footing as Victor Oladipo was the only player consistently scoring.

Yes, there were bright moments. But Maurice Harkless was right in saying they were few and far between. Vicotr Oladipo scored 22 points on seven field goal attempts, getting to the line for 12 of 14 makes. However, he struggled dealing with Miami's pressure defense and traps, committing five turnovers. That was a number he was less than thrilled with — joking another game like this and you would have to call him "Mr. Turnover."

Maurice Harkless had some spark offensively attacking the basket, particularly on a first-quarter postup that he finished with a spin toward the basket and two-handed jam. But Harkless scored only eight points on 3-for-5 shooting. Romero Osby added 11 points and Kyle O'Quinn also had eight.

The Magic failed to get an offensive rebound in the first half and gave up 11 to the Heat. Those extra possessions may not have meant much, but it was one less opportunity for the Magic to close in on the lead. Not helping either was the lethargic defense and late rotations that led to rim-rocking dunks or free throws. Miami shot 40 free throws in the game.

Whatever precision the Magic had from the first two games was worn away and thrown to the scrap heap with the pressure Miami applied.

"It's something we just got to learn from," Oladipo said. "We've got to be aggressive from the jump on both ends of the floor. Set the tone with our defense, I think they did a good job of that and that's why they were so successful."

Orlando did get the remainder of their roster in with A.J. Slaughter scoring seven point in 11 minutes and dishing out two assists. Matt Gatens, Glen Dandridge and Keith Clanton also made their Summer League debuts.

But the focus was certainly on the Magic's rotation players. Players who expect to play when the regular season comes around. The learning experience comes from understanding what the team did wrong and bringing the intensity later. But the reality is that this is a Summer League game and many players on the Heat roster will not be playing for the defending champions next year.

Miami executed their stuff with energy and enthusiasm and took it to the Magic in a major way. Orlando struggled to respond and when they did, it was haphazard and without the blunt execution Miami had. The offense recovered and the defense never did.

Orlando became the first team to get swept in the points used for the standings in the Summer League.

That feeling might be the toughest pill to swallow. This team still does not quite have its identity set yet.

"I think you just want them to be the aggressor at some point," coach James Borrego said. "They've got to switch their mentality. They've got to become the aggressor at some point. We tried some different lineups, settle guys down, bring them to the bench and talked to them. It's a learning experience. They've just got to go through it. I tried to let them figure out a way to settle down during that tough stretch."

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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