Nobody saw this coming. Nobody gave the Orlando Magic any sort of chance to win a game against the team with the best record in the NBA and yet when the clock hit all 0s, the Magic stood victorious over the Milwaukee Bucks 122-110. They were clicking on all cylinders and really frustrated the supporting cast for the Bucks.
With the Magic now up 1-0 and game 2 on Thursday, here are a few keys for the Magic to pull off a second straight upset:
1- UGLY UP THE GAME
The Magic do not have great shooters on their team but when they get going like they did in game 1, they look unbeatable. The problem is they do not shoot well on a consistent basis. If the Magic want any sort of chance of winning more games in this series, they need to ugly up the game. Outside of a 4-6 shooting from Wesley Matthews and 5-9 shooting from George Hill, no other Bucks player made 50% or more of their field goals. Giannis had his typical game of 31 points on 12-25 shooting along with 17 rebounds and 7 assists, but he also had 5 turnovers. The defense held Milwaukee to 43.3% shooting and 33.3% shooting from 3. The Magic will be hard-pressed to replicate their shooting performance in game 1 so if they want to win, they need to ugly up the game.
2- GET EVAN FOURNIER GOING
It was not pretty for Evan Fournier in game 1. Yes, he hit a couple clutch threes at the end of the game but the beginning was pretty much how he's played since entering the bubble. In seven games, the frenchman is averaging less than 13 points per game while shooting 39% from the floor and 30% from 3. Vooch will not be able to score 35 a night so they will need all the help they can get from everyone else that plays, including Fournier.
3- MAKE EVERYONE ELSE BEAT YOU
This is very similar to the first key for the Magic in uglying up the game but it is a little different. Giannis is going to get his, he's one of the best players in the world and there's really not much you can do to stop him. So if the Greek Freak goes off for 40, or even 50, who cares? The key is his supporting cast. If nobody else is hitting shots, that is a recipe for success. The Magic did a very good job of frustrating the Bucks as a team, getting physical and causing turnovers. Khris Middleton has been pretty good in the bubble and he was virtually non-existent in game 1, scoring only 14 points on 4-12 shooting along with 4 turnovers. Giannis is good, in fact he's great. But is he the type of player that can put the team on his back whenever the rest of them are not playing well? Game 1 would suggest not but the Bucks are the No. 1 seed for a reason. While the bubble hasn't been kind to them (3-6 including the playoffs), this is now playoff time and the great teams turn things around when their backs are up against the wall. Right now, that's where Milwaukee is.
A bonus key for the Magic will be the play of point guards. Markelle Fultz was smart in selecting the shots that he took on the way to starting the game 5-5 (4-4 in the first quarter) and added 6 assists and even a blocked shot on the day. As for D.J. Augustin, off the bench the "Little Longhorn" didn't shoot the ball particularly well but had a few clutch baskets on his way to an 11-point 11-assist double-double. Combined, the two had 26 points, 17 assists, and only 5 turnovers. That is the kind of play the Magic need from their point guards.
Game 2 is Thursday.
PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES