Orlando Magic gain confidence with win but have more work to do

The Orlando Magic threw quite a punch to take a 1-0 series lead. But ther eis no time to celebrate. (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic threw quite a punch to take a 1-0 series lead. But ther eis no time to celebrate. (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic beat the NBA’s top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1, now they have more work to do to keep the series lead and become a threat to advance.

The Orlando Magic have shocked the world.

The team has shattered all of the “they are going to get swept” thoughts from out of all the pundits’ minds and has everyone looking forward to how the Bucks will react to being embarrassed in their first playoff game.

The Orlando Magic threw the first punch and continued to swing at Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks until they eventually fell in a shocking 122-110 victory.

The Magic should be proud of their first game upset accomplishment. But they should not get relaxed by any stretch of the imagination.

The Milwaukee Bucks have not lost a game in the first round since 2018 when they went all seven games with the Boston Celtics. The Milwaukee Bucks swept the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 2019 playoffs. So this is the first time the Bucks have experienced losing in the first round since the seven-game series against the Celtics two years ago.

Milwaukee was largely expected to waltz through the first two rounds to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The upset win was stunning and probably top-5 on the list of NBA Playoff upsets. It was the third-largest first-round upset by point spread in NBA history, or at least since ESPN officially tracked spreads.

Now they have this game under their belt, it is time to shale off all of the pats on the back and refocus for the next game. Undoubtedly, the Bucks will come out more desperate to regain their respect and dominance.

This next one is the type of game when you can really analyze the Magic.

Orlando, for now, seems like it wants to see Milwaukee at its best as James Ennis pokes the bear of the best team in the league in comments to the media after practice Wednesday.

The Magic know the Bucks are going to come back with more focus in Game 2.

This is when we will see if the Magic can keep their foot on the Bucks’ neck or if the Bucks will show who is really the superior team.

In Game 1, Orlando was able to repel every run Milwaukee made at its lead. When the Bucks cut the deficit to one point in the third quarter, the Magic responded with a 14-4 run that put them ahead for good.

When Milwaukee cut it to six in the fourth quarter, Orlando responded with a 7-0 run — the Terrence Ross layup and that set up Nikola Vucevic’s three, all assisted by D.J. Augustin.

The team proved up to the task then. But every player has acknowledged their struggle to rise up to the challenge of Game 2 and to get better as the series continues.

That was the message from coach Steve Clifford after the game.

Some things need to change and some have to stay the same in order for the Magic to continue piling up wins.

We all know Khris Middleton will have a better game than the 14 points on 5-for-14 shooting he put up in Game 1. Middleton was an All-Star this year and his outside shot will fall at some point in the series.

Orlando did a good job staying attached to him. But the team is going to give up something.

The Bucks’ bench will also surely play better and make more 3-pointers. And it is hard to keep Brook Lopez in check on both ends the way the Magic did. Milwaukee will surely adjust to get them better shots.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the MVP for a reason. And while his 31-17-7 game was impressive in the box score, he will surely come out with some fire looking to attack and stress the Magic’s defense.

A couple more things have to become more consistent for Orlando too.

The Magic will need a mirror game from Nikola Vucevic in order to compete against an embarrassed and desperate Milwaukee team.

Vucevic led all scorers in Game 1 with 35 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in. This was Vucevic’s best Playoff performance of his career and it was unquestionably needed against the NBA’s top seeded squad. He was shooting and making shots from everywhere on the court.

Orlando made nearly 40-percent of its 3-pointers and 16 3-pointers in total. Gary Clark made four of those in a surprising turn. Orlando lived outside of the paint, draining mid-range jumpers Milwaukee gave it, forcing the defense to leave the paint. And the Magic’s defense scrambled and scrapped well, walling off Antetokounmpo and getting to loose balls to gum up the offense.

The team will need to keep that same level of offensive intensity and Vucevic will be required to continue to play at a high level if the Magic want to extend the series past five games.

Next. Orlando Magic's young players will be key in this series. dark

The Bucks will indeed be sending their best this time around.