The road ahead
The Orlando Magic is entering one of the most challenging stretches of the schedule — a seven-matchup gauntlet starting at home against the Milwaukee Bucks, followed by a six-game road trip against the East’s best teams, including the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers.
With only two games to initiate Cole Anthony into the starting rotation, the Magic will have to feel these changes out through live play. There will undoubtedly be some growing pains. Player development may be a better barometer than on-court success.
The Magic should continue to employ the rebounding-transition strategy in hopes of minimizing the talent discrepancy during this stretch. Brooklyn, Boston and Indiana all allow opponents to grab an above-average number of offensive rebounds, per Cleaning the Glass.
Milwaukee and Brooklyn spend the most time in transition in the league, and Boston and Indiana rate among the top-10 league-wide too. These matchups will be a measure of how accomplished the Magic’s transition defense truly is.
The mounting injuries and potential for contact tracing protocols limiting the roster make this stretch even more perilous for Orlando. Dallas’ Maxi Kleber, who played 24 minutes against the Magic on Saturday, was placed under isolation due to contract tracing the following morning as reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
When teams enter a difficult stretch, it’s paramount that they maintain their identity and adhere to the gameplan that has already brought them success.
The Magic should continue to rely on their offensive rebounding prowess and staunch transition defense if they are to compete over these next two weeks.