Orlando Magic need to stick to what got them to Game 5

The Orlando Magic now understand that sticking to their most successful starting lineup during the season will only increase their chances to win going forward.
Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic - Game Four
Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic - Game Four / Don Juan Moore/GettyImages

There was a time when they were undefeated.

The lineup of Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter, Gary Harris and Jalen Suggs were one of the league's best starting five at times in this NBA season. At one point the team looked like it could not lose with these players starting the game.

The first loss with these starters was on March 29 against the LA Clippers. Their last loss with this lineup was on April 12 against the soaring Philadelphia 76ers, and Wendell Carter left that game early in the first quarter with back spasms.

But more importantly, this particular lineup turned out to be the most successful starting lineup for Orlando being that they only lost twice all year. The group finished with a +12.5 net rating and a 114.7/102.1 offensive/defensive rating split.

That was the team's best lineup that played at least 100 minutes together and the team's fourth-best lineup that played at least 48 minutes together. It was the best of any of the team's 19 different starting lineups this year.

But coach Jamahl Mosely felt compelled to start Jonathan Issac for the final regular season game against the Milwaukee Bucks and alter the starting lineup thanks to Wendell Carter's back injury. Many fans in Central Florida understood the change and embraced the coaching change.

Oddly enough, on February 22, Jamahl Mosely's coaching staff went back to the lineup that featured Wendell Carter as the starting center and Gary Harris at shooting guard against the Cleveland Cavaliers and pulled off a 116-109 win. Moe Wagner had 22 points and seven boards off of the bench and the Magic beat a stingy Cavalier team. So the Magic has had success against the Cavaliers with this particular lineup.

In hindsight, the Magic did not have to change the starting center but may have been looking for more of a rim protector in Game 1, considering how Donovan Mitchell likes to attack the basket. The Magic opted to go with Isaac to start Game 1.

The coaching staff could have thought this would be the first look that wanted to show on the road so that J.B. Bickerstaff and his staff could potentially anticipate the starting lineup once they travel down to Orlando. There are a bunch of head games coaches play against each other too.

Or maybe the Magic just wanted to maximize Jonathan Isaac's minutes and thought he could handle the glass going up against Jarrett Allen. Either way, it did not work and the Magic found themselves in a 2-0 hole.

That change to insert Carter in the starting lineup once the Magic traveled back to Orlando was a genius move by Mosley. It was an admission that something was not working. Going back to that reliable starting lineup changed the series.

The Magic's original starting lineup has a +21.8 net rating (117.1/95.4 offensive/defensive rating) in 52 minutes this series across four games. In the last two games, they have a +23.8 net rating as the Magic dominated the Cavaliers in Games 3 and 4.

Now, Cleveland is focused on adjusting to that particular chess move once the teams returns home for Game 5 on Tuesday. The Cavaliers' coaches should be scrambling right now, trying to find a solution to the Magic's depth and youth.

For whatever reason, the Magic were able to gain their confidence with their shooting and take two back-to-back home games. Now the pressure shifts to Donovan Mitchell and his Cavaliers because they have to win at home or face an elimination road game in Game 6 on Friday.

So the Magic should stick to what got them here and what worked the most in the regular season and these past two games. That is probably what the team should have done from Game 1.

The reason why this lineup works is because all three of the starters play good individual defense and are threats from distance. It is almost like a bunch of 3-and-D players in the starting lineup passing the ball around to find the best shot.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Orlando Magic's future stars shining on Playoff stage. dark. Next. Magic future stars shining

We will see if the coaching staff in Orlando will roll out the successful starting five of Banchero, Wagner, Carter, Suggs and Harris, and how effective they will be on the road after being used sparingly in Games 1 and 2. Or we will see them make a pregame adjustment to show the Cavaliers a different look. Only time will tell.