Orlando Magic need to mirror Moe Wagner's energy

The Orlando Magic have fallen down 2-0 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in their first-round series. They are searching for any kind of offensive spark. They have that in Moe Wagner. His energy needs to spark the others.
Moe Wagner has been one of the few bright offensive spots for the Orlando Magic in their first-round series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Moe Wagner has been one of the few bright offensive spots for the Orlando Magic in their first-round series with the Cleveland Cavaliers. / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic need help.

The team is currently down 2-0 to the Cleveland Cavaliers with a must-win game Thursday at Kia Center to avoid the impossibly deep 3-0 hole.

The team has struggled to find any offensive traction against Cleveland's tough defense. The Magic are struggling to hit from the outside -- shooting only 17 for 72 from three in the two games so far despite ample open shots. Orlando has an 88.5 offensive rating in its two games in Cleveland.

Paolo Banchero has put up points, averaging 22.5 points per game on 48.6 percent shooting in the two games so far. But he has seen a wall of defenders impeding his path to the basket and making his instinct to pass that much more difficult -- 15 total turnovers in two games this series has been his part of the offensive drain.

The Magic need any spark they can get. Anyone who can find some energy and slip into the narrow cracks and get undernath this Cavaliers defense.

Luckily the help they need is sitting right on their bench wearing the number 21.

Moe Wagner has been the energy the Magic have needed all year long. He is a big reason why the Magic's bench is elite. He might not be the most talented person on the roster, but his willingness to bring energy and do the dirty work around the basket pays dividends.

In a series where everyone is struggling to measure up and at times stand up to the Cavaliers and their physicality. Wagner has stood tall.

In the two games of this series, he is averaging 11.0 points per game and shooting 9 for 16 (56.3 percent). While he has missed all three of his 3-point attempts, Wagner has carried over his efficiency in the paint and around the rim to the playoffs where he is rolling hard to the hoop and finishing over the Cavs' length and interior defense.

On top of this, Wagner has gotten under the Cavs' skin in some ways. He became enemy number one in Cleveland during the first two games of the series for flexing and bringing his defiant energy on his makes in Game 1. Isaac Okoro got a technical for trying to give him a shoulder bump after Wagner dunked on a teammate.

Fans booed him every time he touched the ball -- the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse video board showed the Michigan Wolverines logo and images of Michigan's campus to further incite the Ohio-based crowd. Even Franz Wagner picked up stray jeers by association.

In a series where the Magic have yet to lead any moment, they are +2 in his minutes, Moe Wagner is the only player with a positive plus-minus. Orlando is +4.4 points per 100 possessions with Wagner on the floor, the only player again with a positive net ration. The Magic are scoring a team-best 93.9 points per 100 possessions and giving up a team-best 89.6 points allowed per 100 possessions with Wagner on the floor.

Wagner has made a clear positive impact for the Magic.

The Magic's coaching staff has to consider playing him more minutes in Game 3, considering this impact. Wagner finished the game on Monday in recognition of his aggressiveness and willing to attack the Cavs' interior defense.

In Game 2, Wagner was one of the players on the roster who did not look scared. He finished the game with 12 points and six rebounds in only 21 minutes.

He was one of the guys who still believed they could come back and win. His actions on the court brought life into the team, but his minutes were limited.

With one game determining their season, head coach Jamahl Mosely has some critical decisions to make in Game 3.

Desperate times call for desperate moments.

The Magic could not be more desperate. There is more pressure on this home game than any home game in recent history to avoid a 3-0 deficit. No team in NBA history has ever bounced back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

Mosely has to find ways to get Wagner minutes to increase the moral of the team and keep someone in the game who will attack the Cavs' bigs in the paint. At this point, it would be wise to allow players like him an opportunity to shine because his energy can ultimately turn a series around, especially with two home games inside of the Kia Center.

Wagner is averaging 11.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in about 16 minutes per game in the first round series against Cleveland. Those numbers are better than 80 percent of the players on the team in these last two Playoff games.

It is not just the numbers, it is the energy that Wagner provides the Magic need consistently. He is the type of center who is not scared of opposing centers and he showed it with his actions.

He does not shy away from physicality or run from a challenge. That relentless attitude is what the Magic need to get back in this series.

Wagner comes off as a very passionate player who does not care who gets the credit, he just wants to win games. The coaching staff in Orlando has to get the players on the court who really care and are not more concerned with their individual stats or playing time.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are not going to wait until the Orlando Magic's coaching staff figures things out, they are trying to get this series over in Orlando so they can rest for their next matchup -- likely against the dominant Boston Celtics.

Mosely should lean on Wagner's energy and relentlessness and take minutes away from players who are not contributing. Wagner's belief in himself and his squad is critical. Him getting more playing time is the adjustment that needs to be made, especially if the team's energy is lagging.

Next. Magic lineup change 04.22.24. Orlando Magic confident in lineup change with Jonathan Isaac. dark

Whether he starts or not, he needs to be inserted when the team needs a boost, no matter if it is time for him to come in or not.