Orlando Magic took their Playoff lumps in Game 2 loss

The Orlando Magic have a path to improve which is most important in growing the team. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic have a path to improve which is most important in growing the team. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images) /

A desperate and hungry Toronto Raptors team blitzed the Orlando Magic in Game 2. Now the Magic have to find a way as the playoffs have now truly begun.

The Orlando Magic had their moment in winning Game 1. They knew the challenge to get to the next round had just begun. They put the Toronto Raptors and the rest of the league on notice in a major way. There was no more flying under the radar.

Leading up to Tuesday’s Game 2 at Scotiabank Arena, they said the Raptors would give them their best shot. They could not afford to go down 2-0 in the series heading on the road to Orlando.

The thing the Magic were going to learn in Game 2: It is easy to understand you are about to get your opponent’s best shot, it is another thing to play against it and execute it.

Orlando got its taste of the playoff atmosphere in Game 1. They thrived at the end of the game behind D.J. Augustin’s game-winning shot.

There would be no surprise in Game 2.

Game 2 would be the team’s real first taste of playoff basketball. The first time they faced a team desperate for a win and feeling like their backs are against the wall. It would be the first time they saw a team wholly focused on them with that feeling.

The Raptors indeed gave the Magic their best. It was devastating to Orlando as Toronto threw one haymaker after another.

There was the 11-0 run to start the game, including nine straight misses to open the game for Orlando. There was Kawhi Leonard‘s 17 points in the third quarter — a big part of his 37 for the game. Slowly but surely, the Magic let go of the rope, unable to solve their own offensive woes and keep their defense connected.

The Raptors came fast and furious. And the Magic felt powerless to stop them or stem the tide. Not outside a second-quarter stretch that saw the team cut the lead to eight and 12 points at the half.

The Magic could blame themselves for some of that. They missed free throws early on — missing half of their 18 free throws in the first half helped dig them a bit of a hole. They turned the ball over — 17 times total in the game for 26 points.

Those are all missteps they cannot make against a team like the Raptors. Those are all missteps that will spell certain doom.

But the Magic’s defeat breaks down to something much simpler than that. It was an attitude and an intensity they knew was coming but did not know how to handle when it came.

From the start, the Raptors put pressure on the Magic. They ramped up their defense, trapping and blitzing screen and rolls. Orlando got caught staggered and on its back foot immediately. Players were no longer aggressively attacking the defense, instead retreating and wondering where the trap was coming next.

It was a good adjustment. The Magic had their offensive struggles in Game 1 and the Raptors ramped up that pressure even more in Game 2 to slow down the Magic’s rhythm. Orlando could not break the pressure.

It seemingly caught them off guard. They never recovered and never truly got into the game. Orlando did not seem ready for that kind of pressure and played passively and tentatively throughout the game. That led to more mistakes.

Perhaps scoring early might have calmed them down. But from the first field goal missed — a Nikola Vucevic drive that ended in a dunk bouncing off the back rim — the Magic were rattled and playing from behind. They were trying to catch up and finding their outlets difficult to find. They were playing from behind and unable to find an answer.

It did not matter what kind of play the team ran.

A pick and roll saw Evan Fournier or D.J. Augustin get trapped. Marc Gasol especially did a good job especially blitzing those screen and rolls and deflecting passes, preventing the team facing any outlets. When they got the ball in the post to Nikola Vucevic, they left players to double and frustrate him into four turnovers.

It all prevented Orlando from creating any rhythm or any movement off the ball. It forced Orlando to rely on one-on-one plays and drives, often into traffic. The Magic played right into the Raptors’ hands.

To the Magic’s credit, they held their line in the first half. They took that first punch and were staggered but found the energy to fight their way back into the game despite all the struggles. Terrence Ross got hot and kept the lead within striking distance. Aaron Gordon found a little bit of a groove. Orlando was doing enough to stay afloat and their half-court defense was playing decently enough too.

The deficit was only 12 at halftime. Plenty of time to make an adjustment.

That adjustment never came. Coach Steve Clifford said after the game that was the disappointing part. It was not the start, but the team’s failure to adjust in the second half. The game got out of hand at that point.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

But that felt inevitable with the way the Magic were playing. The way the first half went might provide hope the Magic will not get completely blown out at any point and they can fight their way back. The second half showed just how difficult that line is to walk.

For the first time in seeming months, the Magic looked a bit unsure of themselves. They looked a bit overwhelmed and some of that confidence that has overflowed with this team started to falter.

This is just one game in the end. The Magic should have no reason to panic. Although the loss should serve as a reminder for the team and raises issues the team has to correct before Game 3.

It is now on Clifford to make the proper adjustments and prepare his team for the pressure to repeat itself.

Orlando failed to counter and execute effectively in Game 2. The team will have to find a way in Game 3.

This is the playoffs. This is the whole trick of these series and advancing at this round.

For the first time for real now, the Magic are in a playoff series. They got their playoff lumps and got their taste of the desperation teams face in the postseason. Now they may have to find some of it too if they want to protect their home floor.

Next. Grades: Game 2 -- Toronto Raptors 111, Orlando Magic 82. dark

Orlando will have to rise to the challenge with a schematic change and an energy change on its home floor.