3 players who will determine Orlando Magic's postseason outcome

The Orlando Magic have burst onto the scene and reached the Playoffs this season. They face a tough Cleveland Cavaliers team in what everyone expects to be a competitive series. Orlando is going to need some key role players to step up.
Cole Anthony can be a dynamic scorer off the bench. The Orlando Magic will need the best version of him in the Playoffs.
Cole Anthony can be a dynamic scorer off the bench. The Orlando Magic will need the best version of him in the Playoffs. / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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3 players who will determine Orlando Magic's postseason outcome

Cole Anthony

The Orlando Magic have to be counting and planning out where they might have advantages in their series with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The first place they might start is with their bench.

The Magic finished the season averaging 41.5 points per game off the bench, fourth in the league. The Cavs finished 14th at 34.4 points per game. In a close series, those seven points could be a major factor -- although the Cavs have some weapons off the bench the Magic know from experience they will need to worry about.

Orlando's depth has ben one of the team's strengths all season. And the Magic are certain they can count on Jonathan Isaac's impactful defense and his potential as a shooter coming off the bench (or maybe even starting).

Moe Wagner has sort of taken over the role as the Sixth Man, averaging 10.9 points per game this year. But that still trails Cole Anthony and his 11.6 points per game. Anthony is still the central figure in the Magic's reserve attack. And a lot of the success of that second unit goes with Anthony.

For Anthony, though, this has been a wildly inconsistent season.

He started off the season guns blazing averaging 15.6 points per game through November. It seemed he was in line to win Sixth Man of the Year and that no one was going to be able to stop him or stop this Magic team's bench group.

Anthony cooled off considerably bottoming at 8.8 points per game and 23.8 percent shooting from three in January. It was a tough time for him as the scoring guard was suddenly not scoring.

The Magic's bench was still able to produce and Orlando was still able to hold its own.

But now in the Playoffs, the Magic need the best version of Anthony. He has the ball in his hands a lot and the Magic give him the freedom to seek out opportunities to score.

Anthony loves squeezing into the paint and shooting floaters and quick turnarounds in the paint while the defense is struggling to corral him. He is very good at creating space and getting his shot up over taller defenders.

What he has struggled with throughout the season -- that featured a career-low 11.6 points per game and just a 49.6 percent effective field goal percentage -- is his consistency and his shooting. In the Playoffs, Anthony will play a big role. Orlando has an advantage with its bench and the team needs Anthony to provide some punch.

The games the Magic feel more likely to win are the ones where Anthony shoots efficiently and scores above his season averages. The Cavaliers may not have the firepower off the bench to match those -- minus hot shooting games.

Orlando is 15-11 in games where Anthony scores 15 or more points and 18-12 in games where he shoots 50 percent or better. The Magic are 16-11 when Anthony hits two or more 3-pointers, a big factor for several players considering the Magic's shooting shortcomings.

The Magic are 16-15 when he scores fewer than 10 points and 13-14 when he fails to hit a 3-pointer.

None of that points to correlation and the Magic can survive without Anthony at his absolute best. But Anthony is clearly a player who can swing a game for or against the Magic.

Anthony averaged 11.3 points per game and shot 59.4 percent and 4 for 7 from three in four games against the Cavaliers.

The bigger concern is that a team like the Cavs will attack Anthony on defense. And if he is not scoring, it will be hard to justify him being on the floor if he is struggling defensively. Anthony has always been a willing defender, but this series will be the test for him.

This tug-o-war over Anthony could be one of the big factors in this series since the Magic need to win their bench minutes.