The 8 games we are looking forward to most on Orlando Magic’s schedule

The Orlando Magic will have to hit the ground running and find momentum quickly when the season resumes.(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic will have to hit the ground running and find momentum quickly when the season resumes.(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /
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Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic are struggling to find their offensive identity as they continue to sink. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

August 5 — vs. Toronto Raptors (8 p.m.)

The Orlando Magic have a long history it seems with the Toronto Raptors.

The Playoff series last year did a lot to influence this year’s team in so many ways. The series inspired and matured the Magic in a lot of ways. It also haunted them, changing some of their attack after the way the Raptors deconstructed them.

Some of those changes have been undoubtedly good. Some of them have been undoubtedly bad. This team was still going through a learning experience.

But the Raptors remained a difficult matchup. But not for the reason people think.

Pascal Siakam averaged only 17.3 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. Of course, all three of those games featured Jonathan Isaac. Isaac’s defensive acumen has always given Siakam special trouble.

Part of the Raptors’ strategy in that Playoff series last year was to get Isaac into foul trouble and out of the game. That is how they attacked and how they won.

Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors /

Toronto Raptors

Instead what the Raptors were able to do against the Magic this year is bully Nikola Vucevic again and hit three-pointers from the guard spot. Kyle Lowry scored 26 points in the opening 104-95 win in the third game of the season. The Magic faded late in that game and relied on Isaac to carry the team defensively — and even offensively that game.

The second game featured the injuries to the Magic’s key players in Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon. It almost felt like a wash. The third game saw Norman Powell score 33 points in another easy win.

That is the thing about this Raptors team, they always find guys to score. Never questioning the heart of a champion or something like that. The Raptors have put in an incredible season.

It is all these varied weapons and the basketball intelligence of their players that have allowed them to best the Magic over and over again. They are so solid on defense and able to turn that defense into quick offense. They quickly pounce on any mistake.

The Magic and Raptors though played each other three times before December. They have not seen each other in a long time. And Orlando is a different team since then just as Toronto is a different team.

Serge Ibaka is more the full-time starter and Marc Gasol comes off the bench. And if photos are to be believed, Gasol is a lot slimmer than he was during the season.

Orlando certainly wants a measure of redemption against Toronto and a second playoff series would be intriguing without Kawhi Leonard sucking up so much attention. But the Magic very much need Isaac to match up with this team.

38. Final. 105. 81. 98