By Josh Cohen
Oct. 6, 2017
ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic held the Dallas Mavericks to just 33 percent shooting from the field in Thursday’s preseason victory.
The Magic usually win when they limit their opponent to lower than 40 percent shooting. In fact, Orlando went 23-4 over the last two seasons combined (12-1 in 2016-17) when this happened.
The Mavs made 29 percent of their 3-point attempts – although the Magic would have probably preferred to run them off the 3-point line more. Dallas launched 41 shots from long distance.
Defending the perimeter (closing out, contesting and running opponents off line) more effectively is a major point of emphasis. In nine of their 29 wins last season, the Magic confined the opposition to under 30 percent from beyond the arc.
Orlando was also solid on the interior against Dallas, which accumulated just 24 points in the paint. The Magic had seven blocks, including two each from Jonathan Isaac and Khem Birch.
When they are intimidating in the paint and show more defiance, the Magic are far more dangerous. They were 5-4 last season when they swatted away eight or more shots.
It is critical for teams to consistently contest shots. It’s such a simple and obvious aspect of playing good defense and yet it’s also remarkable how vital it is to be an elite defensive team.
Here’s a breakdown of opponent FG percentages when teams contested and didn’t contest shots in 2016-17. These teams were selected at random to illustrate the differences.