Welcome to The Whiteboard, your daily source for the previous day’s best NBA content from around the internet, plus an original column. Catch The Whiteboard here on The Step Back, and subscribe here to get it delivered to you via email each morning.
Somehow, someway, the Orlando Magic was the NBA’s hottest team heading into the All-Star Break. Orlando was a downright shocking plus-22.8 over the last five games before the break, winning all five of those games by at least 10 points.
The Magic won seven of its last eight games heading into the break, in what was easily the best run of the season for Nikola Vucevic and company. The last time Orlando had won more than two straight games was a stretch in mid-November. This is just the second such winning streak for the Magic all season.
Vucevic and Terrence Ross have both been good for Orlando, as they have all season, but the difference-maker for the Magic has been Jonathan Isaac. Isaac averaged 15.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 2.8 blocks (!!) in the five games before the All-Star Break. Those numbers are good, especially the blocks, but Isaac’s efficiency was the big outlier for him.
Isaac, who is shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 30.0 percent from 3-point territory across all of his NBA games, shot 50.9 percent from the field, 40.7 percent from 3, and 100 percent from the free throw line in Orlando’s five consecutive wins.
Isaac has been the difference for the Magic, and the difference has been a big one. Even with Aaron Gordon struggling (shooting less than 40 percent from the field and an even 30.0 percent from 3 in the winning streak), Orlando was able to win with Isaac balling out.
The Magic’s schedule helped matters. Four of the five teams Orlando beat have sub-.500 records on the season (Charlotte, Minnesota, Atlanta and New Orleans) and the fifth, the Milwaukee Bucks, were without Giannis Antetokounmpo in their matchup with the Magic. That is not exactly a murderer’s row.
Still, it’s too bad the best basketball Orlando has seen all season came right before such a long break from play. The Magic should still have some momentum working, but there’s no doubt the long layoff will make it harder to carry over those winning ways.
#Content you can’t miss
It’s hard not to root for Khris; Zach Lowe profiles Khris Middleton’s humble beginnings and how he’s built himself into an All-Star
The Raptors seem to need him; Mike Bossetti details how Kyle Lowry is the NBA’s least conventional star
The best young Laker, maybe; Chris Ballard profiles Kyle Kuzma, right as he almost got traded to the Pelicans
A fun stretch four/five; Jackson Frank wonders if Jerami Grant can be the difference for Oklahoma City
Kyrie is always saying something; Tom Wade recaps Kyrie Irving’s latest appearance on The Jump