The Orlando Magic’s playoff loss to the Toronto Raptors is five months old and the new season is approaching. It is time to see what lessons they learned.
The Orlando Magic had that “Why not us? Why not now?” attitude about them entering the playoffs. The crowd at Scotiabank Arena was hungry for an easy playoff victory after years of playoff hardships — and even minor disappointments. They were ready for what would become a championship run.
The Magic were oblivious to this. They played with the same frenetic energy and urgency that helped push them to the playoffs through a crazed 22-9 run to end the season. The Orlando Magic were going to defy the odds and play their game, using their defense to make life hard for the Toronto Raptors.
Still, it was a close game at the end of Game 1. Kawhi Leonard hit a long two over Nikola Vucevic to give Toronto a two-point lead. It felt like the Raptors would survive a scare from a plucky young team and take their place at the top of the mountain.
Then something new happened.
D.J. Augustin sized up Marc Gasol on a pick-and-roll switch and buried a 3-pointer to give the Magic a Game 1 win. At that moment, everything seemed possible.
During the next four games, the Raptors proceeded to dismantle the Magic in almost every way.
Orlando struggled to generate much offense. Their defense struggled to contain transition opportunities off those misses. Leonard turned in an MVP-worthy performance (and it was perhaps his worst overall series of that title run).
Orlando failed to come up with any answers. Nikola Vucevic shriveled — raising questions about his future contract.
As coach Steve Clifford put it after the series ended, he expected the Magic to compete a little bit better against a very good Raptors team. He was disappointed that the team got beat so thoroughly.
In re-assessing that series, Clifford said the team was unable to generate much offense. He felt the defense was solid when it got set, but the team’s offensive shortcomings were on full display.
And that is at least part of the focus heading into the 2020 season. If Orlando wants to make a step up in the Eastern Conference ladder, it will take some internal growth and some changes to the offense.
The playoffs happened five months ago unbelievably. Training camp is a week away. All the analysis and plans should be done.
There are plenty of lessons to learn from that five-game series, even if full conclusions about this team’s potential cannot be drawn — it is an incredibly small sample after all. But the playoffs laid bare the Magic’s flaws.
In that destruction, there is the ability to grow. If they can learn those lessons.
NBATV re-aired all five games of that playoff series Wednesday. Giving us a final look at what we can learn from that series.