The Orlando Magic has played their final game of 2016. They will spend New Year’s Eve in Indianapolis before beginning a new year against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
Hopefully they will start 2017 with a new personality. If pressed to provide a one-word description of the 2016-17 Magic, the best description might be “Sybil.”
This analogy is provided courtesy of the 1976 film by that name starring Sally Field. She portrayed a troubled woman named Sybil Dorsett suffering from dissassociative identity disorder.
In other words, she had multiple personalities.
Is there a better way to describe this Magic team when it comes to playing on the road vs. playing at home? How can a team beat contenders like San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Atlanta on the road, while taking two 30-point beatings and another 19-point pasting at home within 30 days of each other?
On Thursday, center Nikola Vucevic offered the same assessment provided multiple times after other fiascos like Wednesday’s 120-101 home drubbing at the hands of the Charlotte Hornets.
“You gotta communicate, that’s a big part,” he said following a team practice. “You gotta be aggressive; take them out of their comfort zone; follow the scheme.”
Vucevic is, of course, correct. The problem lies in the fact such assessments would be more valuable if they come during the game when there is still an opportunity to win.
Here is another example of the Sybil syndrome. The day after Christmas, the Magic hammered the Memphis Grizzlies at home, 112-102.
Memphis leads the NBA in total defense, but was no match for Aaron Gordon and Orlando on that night. Two days later, the bad Sybil showed up against Charlotte.
Guard D.J. Augustin says the Magic “has got to respond.” The Magic coaching staff and fan base hereby give their permission to do that during the game.
Perhaps disastrous third quarters, which have led to the multiple home blowouts, could be prevented with some leadership on the court. Over the past three weeks while home cooking has been badly burned, the Magic have been outscored in the third period 36-23 by Boston, 29-13 by Toronto and 35-13 against Charlotte on Wednesday.
Teams make adjustments at halftime and often the Magic do not respond, as Augustin says. When on the road, Orlando has been the aggressor on multiple occasions, leading to wins or at least competitive games.
Orlando frequently plays more aggressive defense on the road. Far too often, especially lately, playing hard at the other end has been missing.
“The coach has got to practice defense more – that’s where it starts – and then we have to commit more to that end of the floor,” said Coach Frank Vogel on Thursday. “We’ve had time to learn each other and jell and now it’s time to tighten the screws on all of our habits.”
Despite all of their problems and basketball schizophrenia, Orlando is only two games out of a playoff spot. Leading scorer Evan Fournier is set to return on Sunday.
Hopefully, the commitment to defense as well as to their fans, who pay good money to watch them, will also return. The talent is there for this team to make the post season.
Which Magic team will show up in Indianapolis on Sunday?