Getting Vucevic going
However, despite their triumph in game one, the Magic have one glaring need to fix: get their All-Star Nikola Vucevic going.
In the first two contests Vucevic, who averaged nearly 21 points, 12 rebounds and four assists during the regular season, has mustered just 8.5 points, seven rebounds and three assists. In those two games Vucevic has made just 28.6 percent of his shots, compared to almost 52 percent in the regular season.
Through the opening two games in Toronto, the Raptors have suffocated Vucevic seemingly every time he’s touched the ball. With Marc Gasol pushing him off his spots, and guys like Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Pascal Siakam helping off their men to double him, Vucevic has been unable to get anything going at all.
Vucevic has appeared lost on offense, and hasn’t been able to use some of his strengths — like his ability to pick-and-pop— to strain the Raptors defense.
If the Magic want to put anymore pressure on the Raptors in the series, they’ll have to find a way to get Vucevic going. That will likely start with finding ways to get him the ball in spots where he can be successful without posting up, or running different actions to try and find mismatches on smaller defenders in the post. Add in a few more times popping out for a three-pointer, rather than rolling hard towards the basket and they could get more out of their All-Star.
Without needed contributions from Vucevic, the Magic’s likelihood of being able to push the Raptors deep into the series is almost none.
All the best players in the league are able to make adjustments on their own, and not just rely on their coaches to make any needed adjustments. While Steve Clifford will undoubtedly make adjustments to try and make Vucevic’s life easier in Game Three, it will also be on the Magic’s All-Star to find ways to impact the game more as well.
For the first time since Game Four of their last playoff series with the Indiana Pacers in 2011/12, the Magic will play a playoff game in front of their home fans.
Since that last playoff appearance, interest in the team has taken an understandable step back. Coming into the season, the Magic had won just 32 percent of their possible games since their first round loss to the Pacers in 2012.
Time after time Magic fans have been outnumbered in the Amway Center crowd over the past seven years. Games with importance have come and gone with fans of the opposing teams making themselves be known much louder over the Magic faithful.
Now, as they get ready to tip off their first playoff game at home in seven years, the Magic need the Amway Center to be rocking like Raptors fans had Scotiabank Arena rocking on Tuesday evening.
Having a home court advantage is something that all the best teams in the league have. None of them have to wonder if the opposing teams fans are going to make their presence known.
The Magic were beginning to develop that as the season wore on, winning their 13 of their last 14 at home, including their final nine, but will need the support for their fans to truly give them a home court advantage.
The Amway will likely be rocking as the ball is thrown in the air in a playoff game for the first time since 2012, and the players, who are all excited to see how the atmosphere will be, will inevitably feed off of any and all energy the crowd is able to produce.