The Orlando Magic Spell

Tuesday, October 19, 2010
By Jon Newberry

Here are the facts…

  • The Orlando Magic have won 20 straight preseason games dating back to the first game of the 2008 preseason (a home loss to the HAWKS)
  • Last season the Magic defeated the Hawks 8 out of 9 times (including preseason and postseason) by an average of over 22 points
  • Last night the Magic defeated the Hawks 102-73
  • The Orlando Magic were not 22 points better than the Hawks last season and they are not 29 points better than the Hawks this season

It is true that the Magic have been able to score a lot of points against the Hawks (they averaged 105 per game in 2010-11), but it is their defense that seems to give Atlanta the most trouble. Orlando does have the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year in Dwight Howard, and Rashard Lewis (a long 6’10”) is a versatile defender, but the Hawks give the Magic a helping hand at times.

Last night the Hawks shot 30 percent from the field and 18 percent from behind the arc. In past years I would chalk this up to poor shot selection combined with good defense. Watching the game last night it was encouraging to see that Coach Larry Drew’s new offense creates more space for our jump shooters. In fact NBA TV’s “Secret Scout” (see below) agrees that Drew’s version of the Princeton offense should force teams to sag more into the lane, allowing more open jump shots rather than open lay-ups.

[feonba id=”channels/nba_tv/2010/10/15/” width=”388″ height=”394″]

Unfortunately for Atlanta, the open looks did not go down last night.

“Our jump-shooting was shocking,” J-Smoove commented after the game. “Basketball is a game of imperfection. If you miss a couple, you can’t get down on yourself. You just have to keep shooting. And I think when guys missed a couple shots, they were hesitant.”

This has become a trend against the Magic. The Hawks miss some open looks early and the panic button is pressed prematurely. There is a mental block that has grown with each lopsided loss.

Orlando is not 20 points better than the Hawks. They lost to the Wizards twice last season and then were bounced by the Celtics in the postseason, a team that the Hawks swept 4-0 during the regular season. Sure, there are teams that you simply do not match up well with, but the bad match-up is often more mental than physical.

The schedule says that the Hawks play the Magic four times this season, and with both teams expecting to make a run in the playoffs there is a good chance their paths could cross again in April. Here’s to hoping the Hawks can find a way to break the “Magic Spell” because if the Hawks bring their best game it would be a great game to watch.