Orlando Magic have to come together for first road trip

Jalen Suggs and the Orlando Magic got the start they wanted at Amway Center. Now they head on the road to test themselves. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Jalen Suggs and the Orlando Magic got the start they wanted at Amway Center. Now they head on the road to test themselves. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic are exceeding expectations early.

The first win against the Houston Rockets not only showed the world how much this team has improved since last year, but it also showed their urgency to win games.

The Orlando Magic defeated the Houston Rockets 116-86 in Central Florida on Wednesday night in a game that some thought would be close as a battle between two young teams eager to take their next steps. The Magic are starting to put the league on notice after a  30-point margin separated the two teams. It was a statement win in many ways.

The Orlando Magic started off the season just the way they wanted. Now they must take their show on the road in order to pick up another win.

The franchise understands just how important starting off the season with wins is and this team fully embraced coach Jamahl Mosley’s philosophy.

Now the team must keep that same level of intensity as they take their show on the road for a daunting road test.

"“I think it’s a great opportunity for our guys to hone in on tying together,” coach Jamahl Mosley said after shootaround Friday morning. “Defense travels. No matter what, we have to make sure we’re sitting down and guarding. It’s a really good time for us to bond together and come together as a unit.”"

They start tonight in Portland against the revamped Portland Trail Blazers. This game should be taken just as seriously as the home opener because this is Portland’s season opener. The Portland Trail Blazers want to win their first game of the year just as badly as the Magic wanted to win on Wednesday — especially after suffering a blowout loss to the LA Clippers in the Blazers’ opener.

The Magic have to play aggressively on both sides of the floor in order to get wins. This is how the Magic kept the Rockets under 90 points on Wednesday night. This is also how the Magic scored more than 110 points in that contest.

As a matter of fact, the Magic scored 55 points off the bench, 20 of those were scored by three-point sniper Cole Anthony.  Anthony also grabbed eight rebounds in his 24 minutes on the floor. Paolo Banchero finished the game with 12 points and Franz Wagner finished with 19.

This is the main ingredient to the Magic’s success.

If the Magic can continue to get solid numbers from the bench it allows players like Banchero and Wagner to play with less pressure. These two individuals will not have to score every time down on the offensive side of the ball when the bench plays this well. It also allows the starters ample time to get proper rest before their next on-court appearance.

Playing on the road is undoubtedly a challenge for the Magic. They were only 14-27 away from Amway Center and saw their offense crater. This four-game road trip will test the roster’s fortitude and maturity.

The first game is tonight in Portland against Damian Lillard-less Trail Blazers. The next two games will be played in Los Angeles against the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers. The final game of this road trip will be in Salt Lake City against the Utah Jazz.

The Magic should split these four games in a worst-case scenario.

"“I think it’s a good chance for us,” Jalen Suggs said after shootaround Friday. “We’re a young team. We want to prove ourselves this year. What better way than to come out West and play two great teams in the Lakers and Clippers, two veteran-led teams, and then two young and hungry teams in Utah and Portland? I think it will be a great test for us. See how locked in we are.”"

More importantly, the fact that the Magic are expected to win games against teams like the Trail Blazers and the Jazz shows the franchise’s growth. The Magic are no longer projected to lose games against bottom-feeder opponents. And now they are expected to compete against teams like the Lakers and the Clippers, a team they swept in last season’s series.

The expectation of winning games in Orlando is increasing due to the quality of player development taking place in Central Florida. These players look much better than they did last year and they are playing together as a team.

The Magic shared the ball well against the Rockets and left the game with 19 assists. Mosley said after the game he felt they could have gotten even more assists.

After a pass-heavy preseason, the Magic reverted somewhat back to limited passes and few assist opportunities. Orlando dished out only 256 total passes (25th in the league through one game) and 43 potential assists (21st in the league) according to data from Second Spectrum.

Despite scoring 116 points and putting up 120.8 points per 100 possessions, the Magic still have plenty to clean up and improve on offensively.

And that will start with the always tough challenge of playing against a Portland team and its home opener.

"“Come out and do our thing and play the way we play I feel will be really important tonight,” Suggs said after shootaround Friday. “Not letting the antics of a first night or their energy rile us or take us off when they go on runs. Just be us.”"

But the Magic have their winning blueprint. All they have to do is not underestimate their opponent with playing hard-nosed defense and playing lights out on the offensive side of the ball.

Next. Orlando Magic aim to balance fun with serious work. dark

Going forward we will see if they can continue to get wins on the road.