5 takeaways for the 2020 season from rewatching Orlando Magic’s playoff series

Aaron Gordon got some valuable lessons going toe-to-toe with Kawhi Leonard in the playoffs. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Aaron Gordon got some valuable lessons going toe-to-toe with Kawhi Leonard in the playoffs. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors
Evan Fournier’s shooting struggles hurt the Orlando Magic throughout their playoff series. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Game 1: Evan Fournier’s Spacing

When it comes to the Orlando Magic, the most glaring weakness most people will point out is their outside shooting. The team does not have many knock-down shooters. Terrence Ross and Evan Fournier are probably the two players opponents respect the most when it comes to their 3-point shooting.

But in the playoffs, despite the Orlando Magic being a league-average team from beyond the arc — 11th in the league at 35.6 percent, better than the Houston Rockets — the Toronto Raptors left a lot of their shooters open. They committed to collapsing the paint and forcing the Magic to beat them from the outside.

Orlando struggled to get their shot going in the entire series. The Magic made 29.9 percent from beyond the arc in the series. And no one underperformed more than Evan Fournier.

Fournier shot just 23.5 percent from beyond the arc in the series. That was well below even his career-low 3-point field goal percentage in the regular season.

If Fournier were shooting even at that level, much of the series changes. The Raptors decided to put Danny Green on D.J. Augustin after Game 1 and that gave Evan Fournier a small matchup advantage on Kyle Lowry.

He never took advantage and even when the defense sank into the paint and left Fournier open, he rarely made him pay.

The times when he did though were the times the Magic offense suddenly began to click.

The playoff series put a lot of pressure on Orlando. When the Magic were able to execute their offense, it made it more vital for them to make those open shots. And continually the team did not.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

Not consistently. But the best offensive sparks came when they did.

Whether it was the second quarter of Game 1 when Fournier hit a few threes to spark the team back into the game. Or the third quarter of Game 3 when Terrence Ross started hitting from the outside to spark the team.

The 3-point shot is vital in today’s game. It is no coincidence the Magic’s best 3-point shooting game was the only one they won. Orlando was sub-30 percent in the other games.

It was not always the quality of the looks. Orlando missed a lot of 3-pointers. But the Magic struggled to find a good rhythm or get those shots in the flow of the offense. Toronto slowed everything down and gummed up all the systems for the Magic. Orlando did not catch passes cleanly and that disrupted their rhythm.

Undoubtedly, the key to the Magic’s ultimate success is hitting from the outside more. That will free the team’s offense up.

Orlando never made Toronto pay for collapsing the paint and doubling and overhelping. Especially Fournier.