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Three Questions from the Raptors ahead of Game 3 vs. the Orlando Magic

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Ahead of Game 3, we spoke to the Orlando Pinstriped Post to understand the mindset of a Magic fan in these trying times.

NBA: Playoffs-Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

After a Kawhi-led thrashing, we spoke to managing editor Mike Cali of the Orlando Pinstriped Post to hear his thoughts before the Raptors head to Orlando for Game 3.

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From a Torontonian’s perspective, Game 2’s officiating seemed to benefit the Magic immensely, especially in the first half. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the officiating from an Orlando Magic fan’s perspective.

Allow me to answer this question in video form….

A no-call on a near-broken nose in Game 1 must be worth at least 10 make-up calls, right? But in all seriousness, I’m sure we will both have biased opinions on this subject. The only time we remember officiating is when we feel there was a bad call or no call that worked against our team.

In Game 1, I felt the whistles (or lack of, see video above) favoured the Raptors. In Game 2, the whistles may have favoured the Magic in that there were a lot of them, though in my eyes nothing seemed overly egregious (again, you and your readers will likely disagree). Kawhi’s third foul on the loose ball early in the second quarter was questionable, but the refs made up for it by giving what should have been Leonard’s fourth foul to Danny Green. Either way, I don’t think the refs have made a huge impact on this series… other than, you know, allowing Carter-Williams to lose a pint of blood.

Vucevic has now been neutralized for the past two games, largely due to Toronto’s physical presence in the post. What can he do differently to break out of his funk?

Marc Gasol is proving to be Nikola Vucevic’s kryptonite. And listening to Vucevic and Steve Clifford talk about it after Game 2, they both seem pretty baffled. I wrote at length about Vucevic’s struggles here, and long story short is Vucevic has always struggled with physical play and that’s what Gasol provides. Vucevic is being pushed away from the basket and getting the ball in spots that are not ideal for his skill set. The Raptors are so quick at bringing the double team that it has left Vucevic immobilized.

The Magic are one of the few remaining NBA teams that primarily run their offense through a back-to-the-basket center, and that aspect of their strategy has been taken away. Vucevic has to find a way to establish position down low against Gasol, and when he is out of position with the ball, he needs to make quicker reads and sharper kick-outs. Perhaps more importantly, Vucevic’s teammates have to do a better job of moving the ball and knocking down their perimeter shots so the Raptors aren’t as willing to collapse the defense and stuff the box. Jonathan Isaac has shot 1-for-10 from three this series and it’s been ignored because Vooch’s struggles are in the spotlight. The Magic need to hit some shots in order to give Vooch room to operate.

After the Raptors’ largest playoff victory in franchise history, how can the Magic stay confident moving forward?

The confidence for the Magic lies in the fact that they haven’t played their best in this series (credit for that goes to Toronto), and yet they’ve stayed within striking distance for all but the second half of Game 2. They managed to split the first two games despite some very poor offensive performances, with the team shooting just 38.6 percent and committing 28 turnovers. Those numbers, we hope, will balance out somewhat.

If the team (and the All-Star center) that we saw in February, March and early April shows up in Orlando this weekend, the Magic have a very good chance of making this series very interesting. So, the Magic must stay confident in Vucevic (and Steve Clifford) that he can regain All-Star form and make an impact on this series. Plus, it’s now a best-of-five series and the Magic have home court advantage. They have won nine straight games in Orlando, and they’ll be hosting their first playoff game since 2012, so the atmosphere should give the Magic a boost.

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Thanks again for speaking to us, Mike. If you want to read more Magic content, make sure to check out the Orlando Pinstriped Post.