ORLANDO – Defense wins championships. That’s the phrase we consistently hear as it pertains to teams playing into April and June. The Miami Heat put their defense on display against the Magic and it certainly helps when you have two defensive-minded All-Stars to lead the way.
Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo combined for 5 blocks and 4 steals en route to holding Orlando to 89 points. Butler chipped in 23 points and Adebayo, while he didn’t score much tonight, contributed 14 rebounds and a stifling defensive presence. Off the bench, steaky shooter Tyler Herro was feeling himself going 6-10 from three-point range pouring in 23 points of his own.
Butler, in particular was in attack mode all night saying, “I was locked and loaded. I think we all were. This is a statement game, to show like Meyers [Leonard] was saying man, we’re the best team in this state. – We need this dubs (wins) to solidify we’re the best team in the East.”
The Magic struggled to find their offensive rhythm similarly to their meeting with the Heat last Monday when Orlando only scored 92 points. In that game, the Magic shot 30% from three-point land and tonight they shot 27% from range.
“So obviously the statistics that stand out are the free throw differential and the three-point shooting. I mean, the big thing for us is at least three of their three’s were offensive rebound effort plays and I told the guys at halftime, two of them there at the end of the second quarter, without watching the film, [you know] our guys should have had them”, said Coach Steve Clifford.
Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic notably struggled against Miami in their meeting prior to tonight, however they were the only two bright spots in this matchup for Orlando. Gordon scored 24 points while Vucevic notched 21 points.
“You know, part of it is, we actually have to just know make our open looks. You know, we had some tonight that we had to make. Just got to keep the ball moving”, said Nikola Vucevic on Orlando being able to put more points on the board.
For a second straight game the “Human Torch” known as Terrence Ross struggled, going 1-7 from beyond the arc. Evan Fournier in the same fashion struggled tonight as he posted his second straight shooting line of 3-13 from the field.
“If we want to be good, guys got to be on top of their individual games, and we all need to be expert on our team game”, said Coach Clifford.
The Magic look to clean up their act and find their offensive rhythm as they travel back to Charlotte who without a doubt are looking for redemption after the Magic blew them out on their home floor.