Jacksonville Sports Day

NBA: The Magic Are Extremely Resilient…And That’s Why They Are Where They Are

Photo Courtesy Orlando Magic/NBA

BY JOSH COHEN
TORONTO –
Are the 2018-19 Orlando Magic the most resilient team in franchise history?

To properly measure this, a few things need to be analyzed.

First off, what does it mean to be resilient?

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, there are two definitions for resilient. They are as follows:

“Capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture”
“Tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”
Both sure do describe what the Magic have been all about this season.

As far as withstanding shock, the Magic did that in Game 1 against the Raptors. After Toronto erased Orlando’s 16-point second-quarter lead, the Magic didn’t sputter out of control. They, instead, stayed poised and valued every possession down the stretch.

Even though it was just a one-point deficit, Game 1 marked the 11th time this season the Magic won after trailing after three quarters. The Pistons, who have accomplished this 12 times this year, are the only team with more victories when having to climb out of a deficit to start the fourth.

Pressure has yet to get the best of this Magic team. Late in close games, they lock in defensively.

In the regular season, opponents of the Magic shot just 35 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range in the final two minutes of games when there was a five-point-or-less score differential.

The Magic’s stats in that same category are even more impressive after Jan. 30, when Orlando went 22-9 to close out the season. Opponents shot 27.8 percent from the floor and 10.5 percent from beyond the arc during this time in that same situation.

In those final 31 games, they were also excellent offensively when the pressure rose, making 66.7 percent of their shot attempts in the last two minutes of games when they were up or down by at least three.

In Game 1 in Toronto, they made four of their six shots inside of the final two minutes, with D.J. Augustin’s game-winning triple being the highlight of that stretch.

Eleven times this season they have won after falling behind by double digits, the seventh most in the NBA. Several of those comebacks occurred down the stretch when wins were necessary to stay in the playoff hunt. Orlando trailed by 13 to Golden State on Feb. 28, 17 to Memphis on March 22, 14 to Miami on March 26 and 13 to Boston on April 7.

By comparison, the 2008-09 team that made it to the Finals accomplished this only three times, per NBAMiner.com.

After almost every crushing loss late in the regular season, the Magic bounced back and won their next contest. They went into Toronto a couple days after losing to Chicago at home and beat the Raptors, stunned the Warriors after losing a heartbreaker to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden and defeated the Pacers two nights after getting demolished by the Pistons.

The Magic’s Game 1 win epitomized their season in many ways. They found a way to win under tough circumstances. They overcame multiple deficits, remained composed after letting a big lead slip away, withstood a loud, energetic crowd and stuck to their principles even when the pressure mounted.

The only other Magic team that perhaps was just as resilient was the 1999-00 Heart & Hustle squad, who won 16 of their final 26 games that season. That group, however, missed the playoffs by one game.

To withstand shock and recover from misfortune – which is what being resilient means – a team needs to always be prepared for whatever flies their way. The 2018-19 Magic, probably more than any other Magic team from the past, has shown that they can handle adversity, which is why they are in the playoffs and have a 1-0 series advantage.

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