Needless to say, the last few weeks have been rough on the Orlando Magic. After taking down the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets in back-to-back games, the Magic fell flat on their faces following a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at home. In the two wins, the Magic finally began to push the pace, something that they desperately needed to do all season in order to maximize the talent of their personnel.
Things changed after the Grizzlies were able to slow the Magic down. They weren't able to be effective with their faster pace against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But their woes were just beginning.
Orlando's defense, which the team preached would be their backbone during the preseason and training camp, has disappeared into a cloud of dust. Almost like someone vaporized it.
Counting Thursday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Magic have given up over 100 points in each of their last 11 games, winning only the two aforementioned against Chicago and Houston. The defense that they wanted to build around is gone, and no matter what coach Jacque Vaughn says, it's not changing. He wants them to play more physically and he continues to search for things to get them going, but just can't find them.
This is a team that has the talent and has shown flashes of potential, but they just can't put it together on a nightly basis. On some nights their offense is as fluid as the San Antonio Spurs'; on others, it looks like a high school team 20 minutes down the road. On some nights the defense is crisp, making strong rotations and looking solid overall. On other nights it resembles Swiss cheese.
The Magic's inability to find consistency on a nightly basis is one of their biggest reasons for their poor play. A lot of it has to do with their energy level and how much they buy into what Coach Vaughn is teaching, which, in the end, comes back to the coach himself.
Indeed, we've reached the point at which, when Coach Vaughn is mentioned, it's in the context of when--not if--the Magic will fire him. With the team's recent struggles and subsequent reports that the front office is not pleased with the third-year head coach, the writing seems to be on the wall.
I will be the first one to say that, if Vaughn is in fact fired, I was wrong. I've been of the mindset that firing a coach mid-season doesn't accomplish much, and that doing might not end up making a big difference. I'm still not sure that making the change will do a whole lot, but it's becoming clearer that cutting Vaughn loose is a change the Magic need to make.
The way that the players have been playing of late makes it seem like Vaughn has lost the locker room. The guys seem lost on the floor, and that's been one of the big reasons for why they haven't been able to play well consistently.
Vaughn could keep his job at least through Orlando's next three games, each against formidable Western Conference opponents. After that, however, they host the lottery-bound Los Angeles Lakers. Should his team come out and play like it has been recently, then it would be difficult for Orlando to justify moving forward without him at the helm.