After a mildly traumatizing Game 1 for the Raptors, we spoke to managing editor Mike Cali of the Orlando Pinstriped Post again to hear his take on the series so far against the Magic. And to get his thoughts on Game 2 coming up tonight.
Kyle Lowry doesn’t go scoreless often. Do you anticipate the Magic’s defensive game plan shifting if he makes his shots in game two?
If Kyle Lowry had just made one or two of the open looks he had in Game 1, many of the conversations and tweets since Sunday would be quite different. Magic coach Steve Clifford praised Lowry after the game (in no way sarcastically) for the contributions he made elsewhere and the impact he had on the game even while going scoreless. I think all of Orlando is expecting Lowry to make plenty of shots in Game 2, but either way, the Magic’s defensive game plan is pretty set in stone.
Against a perimeter player like Lowry that means contesting all shots and playing tight body-to-body defense. The Magic didn’t do a great job of that consistently on Lowry in Game 1, giving him too many quality open looks that they were fortunate he missed (which then made him hesitant). I’m sure Lowry will shoot early and often in hopes of putting Game 1 behind him as quickly as possible and establishing an immediate rhythm for Game 2. Clifford and the Magic will be ready for it and they will aggressively attempt to limit Lowry’s quality looks and keep that scoreless streak going.
Despite a Magic win, the Raptors were able to contain Terrence Ross, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic, who shot a combined 8-for-35. How do you think these players will attack differently moving forward?
The fact that those three shot that poorly and the Magic still managed to win is truly a shock. Usually as Vucevic and Ross go offensively, the Magic go. Most thought the Magic needed to play a perfect game to beat the Raptors, and yet they were far from perfect in Game 1. The odds of all three of them having a poor shooting night in the same game is pretty unlikely.
Shot selection wise, nothing will change for Ross, who has the classic shooter’s mentality of firing away until they start to fall. And eventually they will. One of Gordon’s flaws is his inconsistencies game to game on the offensive end. On shots in the paint on Saturday, Gordon shot just 1-for-5. It would be nice to see Gordon establish his inside game early and set a tone. But the biggest focus for the Magic must be feeding Vucevic in the post right from the first possession.
The Magic offense is flowing best when they deliver an entry pass into the paint on a majority of possessions and allow Vooch to use his footwork in the post or deliver the kick-out. The Magic likely won’t survive another 11-point game from Vucevic. For the Magic to have a chance in the series, he needs to overcome the physicality of Marc Gasol and the Raptors frontcourt and put up the numbers that made him an All-Star and helped get the Magic here.
D.J. Augustin had a phenomenal game. Do you expect him to play similarly throughout the series, or do you think this is just a one-off performance? Did he change his regular season offensive strategy at all?
Augustin is mostly a game-manager who is going to find the open man and make very few mistakes. Had you told me going into Game 1 that Augustin would account for a quarter of the Magic’s points, I would have assumed the Magic would be pretty screwed. He scored more than 20 points in a game only four times this season prior to dropping 25 on your Raptors on Saturday. With Vucevic, Ross and Gordon struggling, he stepped up, he delivered and he will now never pay for another meal in Orlando for the rest of his life.
But I wouldn’t expect that type of offensive outburst from him to become the norm in this series as the Magic look to establish their primary scorers moving forward. If Augustin is up for it, though, I’ll gladly take another 25-0 scoring advantage from the point guard position. Augustin showed in Game 1 that he is more than capable of coming through when the games matter most.
Thanks again to Mike for speaking with us. If you want to hear my take on Game 2 (or just read some excellent Magic-themed content), make sure to check in with the Orlando Pinstriped Post.