Shorthanded Orlando Magic Unable to Defend Miami Heat

Apr 10, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (left) talks with guard Goran Dragic (right) during the first half against the Orlando Magic at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (left) talks with guard Goran Dragic (right) during the first half against the Orlando Magic at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

With Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon both sitting this game out, the Orlando Magic lacked the necessary defensive components to slow the Miami Heat.

38. Final. 108. 110. 96

The Orlando Magic are simply not a good enough team to weather the loss of one or more key players. The subtractions of Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon in this case ended up spelling a lot of trouble for the Magic.

Victor Oladipo missed this game due to a concussion he sustained in Orlando’s win on Friday night. Gordon sat for the same reason. Concussions are nothing to play with.

Not having two of the team’s top defenders is a recipe for trouble.

It basically pitted Evan Fournier in a death match with Dwyane Wade, which is not a proposition most Magic fans would take. Fournier for his part had a strong offensive game with 21 points, but the Magic allowed the Heat guards to penetrate and break down its defense in a 118-96 romp at American Airlines Arena on Sunday.

ScoreOff. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR

Evan Fournier (ORL) — 21 pts.; Nikola Vucevic (ORL) — 19 pts., 8 rebs.
Luol Deng (MIA) — 20 pts.; Hassan Whiteside (MIA) — 15 pts., 18 rebs.

Wade was an efficient 7 for 9 from the floor, and his three assists hardly tell the story of how much he and Goran Dragic penalized Orlando’s soft perimeter defense. A lot of would-be assists from Wade resulted in Heat players shooting free throws. And the end result was that the Heat feasted inside, outscoring the Magic 60-38 in the paint.

Pick your poison, really.

Miami really got it going in a particularly tormenting third quarter which saw the Magic get outscored 33-20. Evan Fournier poured it on with 13 points in the quarter, but the Magic could hardly get any production outside of him.

And many of the things that seemed to go right in the first half just disappeared in the second.

Perhaps some of that writing was on the wall, as it was. At the half the Magic had attempted just four free throws, while the Heat had already trekked to the line for 18 attempts. Miami also shot 53 percent from the field in the first half, and most of their looks at the basket were of the highest quality.

It seemed like a different Heat team than the one which just fell in Orlando two nights prior.

For the Heat, maybe that only further presses the issue of the Heat needing homecourt advantage in the postseason.

A lot of the issues for Orlando, though, really came down to not having the necessary defensive components without both Oladipo and Gordon.

Gordon’s presence surely could have been beneficial, because a veteran like Luol Deng knows how to abuse a variety of defenders. Oladipo surely could have slowed some of the penetration, as well.

Whether it was Ersan Ilyasova or Andrew Nicholson, Deng had few problems getting good looks. He had eight points in that dominant Heat third quarter. Most of it was simply because Ilyasova and Nicholson are too slow to chase Deng around, and he has the guile to get to the line when they make mistakes.

Deng basically just took full advantage of Orlando’s pitifully weak defense at the 4-spot. Perhaps one could also credit Erik Spoelstra for smelling the blood. Deng finished with 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

The Magic were relatively decent offensively in this game, but the incessant fouling caused problems. Miami mostly won this game on the basis of both its penetration and rim attacking.

Hassan Whiteside practically had his six field goals served to him on a platter.

His individual defense on Nikola Vucevic was hardly standout, though, as Vucevic used his size and skills to his advantage in scoring 19 points in the game. For all the clamoring about signing Whiteside as a free agent this summer, Vucevic was the better center in this two-game series with Miami.

As good as Whiteside is at going after blocks, a skilled center like Vucevic is too much for him. He cannot both play for the block and put proper pressure on Vucevic, and certainly Vucevic’s 24 points per game over this two-game set tells that story accurately.

Still the Heat were able to attack the middle and get after Vucevic throughout the game.

Elfrid Payton had a lot of trouble keeping Goran Dragic out of the paint and the Heat guard both scored for himself and found his teammates. Dragic was 8 for 12 from the field with six assists. He was also responsible for Miami staying in the game while Orlando was clicking with 11 points in the first quarter (his biggest first period in the last 34 Heat games).

The Magic got a taste of sweet victory at the Amway Center, but the Magic clearly needed their full contingent of players in this one.

Payton’s on ball defense has continued to worsen all season, and Dragic is the kind of guard who knows how to take advantage of that. Wade can really only be slowed by a similar explosive athlete, and with Heat guards ripping the Magic’s perimeter defense to shreds, Whiteside was able to feast. Deng, too.

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All those components added together equal a blowout win for the Heat, who are gearing up for the postseason and still needing a couple more victories to ensure home court advantage in the first round.