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What Went Wrong?

For Orlando Magic fans, yesterday's game versus the Philadelphia 76ers was a tough pill to swallow. What appeared to be a Game 1 romp as the third quarter wore on, turned into a Game 1 nightmare as the fourth quarter took shape. As some have suggested, maybe we should change the name of the site to 'Fourth Quarter Collapse' after last night. 


Anyways, the question some of you may be asking is, what went wrong? The first thing I want to address is the fact Orlando was playing on more than three days rest. Why does that matter? If you remember, the Magic are 27th in efficiency differential when sitting out for that long. Certainly the proof was in the pudding, as the team didn't play its best game versus Philadelphia. 


Well, with the help of a visual (courtesy of NBA Graphs), I can provide the main answer to the aforementioned question (I'm concentrating on the fourth quarter). 


I'm sure everyone here is familiar with Popcorn Machine's flow chart, which shows the viewer a colored bar highlighting the impact a player made statistically, using help value, plus/minus, etc. Well, the premise behind NBA Graph's is similar but simpler, where the picture shows plus/minus in color gradients (yellow/red is plus, green/black is minus). It's a great way to visualize the positive or negative impacts of a team using the naked eye and provide a nice change of pace from staring at numbers all the time. 




As you can see above, Donyell Marshall and Theo Ratliff made positive impacts in the fourth quarter for the 76ers. If you watched the game yesterday, Marshall's red bar should come as no surprise since he was lethal in limited playing time (11 points [3-4 from three-point range] in 11 minutes). His presence was definitely felt emotionally and statistically. However, Ratliff didn't light up the box score. No matter, because Ratliff did his thing in other ways - blocking shots, providing energy, rebounding the ball, etc. 


Conversely, if you look closely at the graphic, you'll notice that Hedo Turkoglu had a negative impact for the Magic in the final frame (though he wasn't alone). Turkoglu tried his best to turn his switch on in the fourth quarter offensively but he was more preoccupied trying to contain Andre Iguodala defensively, who was pushing the pace for the Sixers at every opportunity. Credit Turkoglu for playing Iguodala perfectly in the final seconds of the game, though. Iguodala just made an incredible shot, nothing you can do about it if you're Turkoglu. 


Overall, the Sixers just got hot at the right time (ironically, with three-point shooting), with Marshall and Ratliff as the main catalysts of the run (Louis Williams, too). Turkoglu was starting to get his legs back in the fourth quarter, so expect him to bounce back with a strong performance in Game 2. As for everyone and everything else, better hope the events of Game 1 woke Orlando up.