Orlando Magic Must Get Back To Focusing On Playing Elite Defense
By John Denton, Orlando Magic // December 28, 2015
(NBA.com) – Like an annoying drip, drip, drip, there’s been some steady leakage in the Orlando Magic’s defense of late and – as feared – the floodgates opened up Saturday in an ugly loss to the Miami Heat.
Upon taking the job in late May, head coach Scott Skiles told the Magic the truest statistical indicator of playoff teams is field goal percentage allowed. And he backed up his claims with this stat: Over the last 20 years, 94 of the 100 teams to finish in the top five in that category went on to make the playoffs.
The Magic held that lofty, top-five distinction as recently as Dec. 19 when they sat at No. 4 in the NBA in field goal percentage allowed. At that point in the season – 26 games in – they were holding teams to 42.8 percent shooting, which wasn’t far off what the Chicago Bulls were doing to lead the NBA at 41.3 percent at the time.
Since then, however, Orlando has allowed four consecutive foes to shoot 49 percent or better – capped by the hated Heat carving up the Magic in the second half of a 108-101 loss. Miami shot 62.2 percent in the second half and 72.2 percent shooting in the fourth quarter to outscore the Magic 64-45 over the final 24 minutes.
How bad was it? Orlando’s defensive rating on Saturday (124.0 points per 100 possessions) was actually worse than the unsightly 111-76 loss to Cleveland on Dec. 11 (118.2 points per 100 possessions).