The Orlando Magic’s defense has grown since the All-Star break, with much of its success coming from them trying to overhaul various plans.
The Magic usually play drop defense with their big and sometimes defense based on the ball handler, but since the break they have been incorporating two other schemes: zones and switching.
“The way people can score, the league has become so good,” said Magic coach Jamahal Mosley. “You cannot give a package to specific people. You have to be able to play in the drop. You should be able to blitz pick-and-roll. You should be able to blend in the area here and there. It’s great that our people have the versatility to be able to do this. ,
Orlando’s playing field is slightly higher since the break. According to Synergy, Magic has zoned 4.82 times per game since the break, compared to 4.47 before the break.
For the season prior to Friday’s home game against the Toronto Raptors, the Magic allowed 0.906 points per possession when in a field versus 0.984 points per possession when playing a man-to-man defense.
“A lot of coaches say that the more you work at it, the more difficult it gets,” Mosley said of playing zone defense. “Zone has implemented a lot of communication, which we are moving forward with. It has helped a lot in sports.”
Switching has been an even bigger part of Magic’s defense.
When done correctly, switching helps teams keep offensive actions at the front and reduces the gaps for onslaught of offenses.
But when not done with enough discretion, offenses can weaponize team switching by creating friendly mismatches, which the Washington Wizards did several times during the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 127-110 win over the Magic.
Kristaps Porzis (35 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists) made three fouls – shooting two – after being switched to 7-foot-3 center by a Magic Guard in the fourth, letting him go 5 of 6 on a free throw in the final period. helped in 10 out of 13 overall.
“That was the key point from the start of the game – switch without fouling,” Mosley said. ,[Porziņģis] Did a great job of removing those fouls, but they were a lot of swipe downs. ,
For Franz Wagner, switching effectively requires the team’s technique to be precise.
“If you’re letting people run around freely, it’s really hard to protect when you want to switch,” Wagner said. “And you have to be able to defend face-to-face. That’s what we want to do when we switch – force people to score face-to-face on us. have to help, it’s hard to turn against them. If you do those two things, you have a good night most of the time.”
Orlando’s defense has produced over the past month, ranking fifth in defensive ratings since February 23, even as it toggles between coverages.
“It requires great communication,” Wagner said. “Not only from us, but we’re asking the coaches what we’re doing. They’ve done a great job of it.”