Title: Raptor Recalibration, Game 3: Late-game process, Magic risk-seeking and more
Date: April 20, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, my new playoff day-after playoff column looked at a narrow Game 3 victory for the Raptors over the Magic, some adjustments the Raptors had to play through, and what the Magic might try from here.
Do you change who you are to get where you need to go?
The Orlando Magic appear, by nature, fairly conservative. Head coach Steve Clifford prepares and coaches his team well, and they generally stick to their identity. In talking to the Raptors between Games 2 and 3, a common thought was that the Magic would go back to basics rather than make too many adjustments following a blowout. Clifford is a steadier coach, and with a young team that thrives on effort and execution rather than high-end talent, it would make sense to try to reground them in what they do best.
The issue the Magic may be running into is their style of play runs somewhat counter to how an underdog would normally operate. They have half of the equation down, as they do well to slow down games, effectively shortening them. The shorter the game, the smaller the sample and the more room for outlier performances.
The other half dictates some level of risk-seeking, or in the NBA’s case, playing a more aggressive style. That can mean a more intense defensive approach designed to force more turnovers. Think of the 2016-17 Milwaukee Bucks, who I compared these Magic to before the series based on development curve, not style of play — both teams were fairly dogmatic in approach, but the Bucks forced a ton of turnovers to disrupt opponents. Ironically, those Bucks shot too few 3s, which an underdog should also want to do. That high-variance approach raises the ceiling in a fashion that might be necessary. Think the 2018-19 Brooklyn Nets.