Orlando Magic Playoff Preview: 5 adjustments Orlando Magic must make immediately

<> at Scotiabank Arena on April 1, 2019 in Toronto, Canada.
<> at Scotiabank Arena on April 1, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. /
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D.J. Augustin, Orlando Magic
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 30: D.J. Augustin #14 of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 30, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Hiding D.J. Augustin

The Orlando Magic’s defense is one of the best in the league. There are few weaknesses to it at the end of the day and teams will have to work hard to break them down. Even the criticism in the first slide is something that teams have found hard to take advantage of all season.

It is more a reminder to stay sharp and stick to those principles no matter what wrinkles a team might throw at them.

But the biggest defensive adjustment that Orlando is going to fight through most likely is what they do with D.J. Augustin.

Augustin has the fewest win shares of any of the team’s starters. It is the biggest weakness for Augustin, one he makes up for with the pace and balance he brings offensively.

But the Magic are not likely to put him on the opposing point guard. In fact, if there is a defensive weak link — or someone coach Steve Clifford seems to trust least — it is Augustin.

The Magic use Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac on the best wing players. Evan Fournier usually guards the best guard. And that leaves Augustin floating around. And with the teams the Magic are likely to play, that means he takes on the responsibility of chasing Danny Green or J.J. Redick.

It did not go well for Augustin against Green in the last meeting.

By the end of this game, the Magic ended up switching Evan Fournier onto Danny Green to try to slow him down. But that was too little too late.

Augustin is a bit late but not fatally late to get around the screens and defend the shot. But Augustin’ lack of size hurts him there. He is close to the shooter but unable to contest the shot.

In this play against Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers, you can see how Redick is able to work the screen to get separation from the smaller Augustin. Augustin is often chasing on these plays and his size prevents him from closing that gap.

It is not that Augustin does not fight or try to get over these screens. He is clearly fighting.

But Augustin often gets caught trying to sneak into the paint and go for steals leaving shooters open on the perimeter. He will have to have more discipline staying close to his man — especially if it is a matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors.

More importantly, the Magic as a unit need better communication on these screens. Both plays above, the rest of the team is not in a good position to help Augustin navigate those screens. He is left on an island trying to chase and that opens the door for him to get burned.

Would D.J. Augustin work any better against Kyle Lowry or Eric Bledsoe? Augustin has struggled with bigger point guards throughout the year. They are able to play physically with him.

Augustin struggles with bulkier point guards and the Magic might end up better having him chase shooters around screens.

The bigger issue here then is how the Magic rotate and hedge to help.

Better communication on screens — perhaps even some more switching — will be necessary to cover for this. And the Magic will have to make sure they drop at least one player into the paint to cover for any guards who try to bull rush their way to the rim and the paint against Augustin.