Orlando Magic Playbook: Orlando Magic trying to get their defensive mentality back

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Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic, Cody Martin, Charlotte Hornets
The Orlando Magic are trying to get their defense under control before the regular season begins. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images) /

Effort and Intensity

It is clear the impact the Orlando Magic’s defense can have. How they create pace and turnovers is very much about how they play in their base defense.

And if they want success on offense, it is going to start with the kind of pressure and opportunities their defense creates. It is easier to play at a higher pace when the ball is coming off a rebound rather than the bottom of the net.

So far the team has had waxing and waning effort and intensity, giving games a preseason vibe. The kind of effort everyone can recognize will not get it done during the regular season.

In this play from the Orlando Magic’s first preseason game against the Atlanta Hawks. They do a good job scrambling and closing passing lanes. Chuma Okeke shows well on the screen and gets back to his man as others start to close the paint.

Markelle Fultz did a good job recovering in time to steal the crosscourt pass.

It was this kind of movement that was lacking in the Magic’s loss to the Hawks a few days later.

This is just a poor play in almost every way.

Trae Young drives in and tries a lob to John Collins. Aaron Gordon is caught a bit flat-footed but he is able to prevent John Collins from getting to the basket. But from there the entire defense just collapses. There are four bodies around the paint and everyone is watching the ball.

So Evan Fournier completely misses Kevin Huerter relocating to the corner. Everyone is just staring and ball watching.

Pretty much everything has gone wrong in this clip. This kind of effort is simply unacceptable. If the Magic are trying to play “Magic defense,” this is not it.

Some of this inconsistency is the nature of preseason though.

Clifford said some of the team’s issues in Thursday’s game was from heavy legs after two days of hard scrimmaging and practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. He said Friday was a lighter day and the team hopes to be able to put forth a more energetic effort in Saturday’s preseason finale.

The team was also trying out some new defensive schemes. Or at least some schemes the team has not practiced.