What has changed? Steve Francis was finally traded after months of turmoil with the Magic organization. There was a lot to fix with the Magic even with Francis, and now they’re bound to fall to one of the team’s worst.
Early on, the Magic had a decent strategy going. By slowing down the game they were able to contend for the playoffs for the first few months. The Magic were in the top five in points allowed as of December 5th. Since then the defense has completely broken down and allow 96.2 per contest.
The team does have its bright spots. Thanks to Dwight Howard the Magic are in the top 10 in FG%. Howard leads the League in rebounding and scores 15.6. With polishing he has all the potential to be the next Kevin Garnett. And thanks to players like Turkoglu and Garrity Orlando is a good 3P-shooting team.
Like most teams, their success circles around the PG. When Steve Francis scored just 9.7 over a 6-game span, the Magic lost all 6 games. With Francis as the PG the offense was never set up properly and Orlando was 29th in APG. He committed the 3rd most turnovers in the NBA and his team was 24th in turnovers.
Orlando just didn’t have the personnel to follow Brian Hill’s defense style. They’re 22nd in blocks, 27th in steals, 26th in forcing turnovers and 20th in rebounding. The only guys to average a whole steal per game for the Magic are Jameer Nelson and Grant Hill.
Which brings me to injuries. Nelson and Dooling have combined to miss 47 games and Grant Hill has missed 38 games. Much of their success or lack of it is due to Hill’s inability to stay on the court. He should be able to play most of the remaining 29 games, but at this point it doesn’t matter much.
Orlando started out 18-22 but have lost 12 of their last 13. With an 8-game losing streak and 7 games between them and the Sixers, the Magic’s chances are slim to none. With the season dead the most they can hope for is development between Milicic, Ariza and Howard.