The Orlando Magic encountered quite the bout with déjà vu on Tuesday afternoon as the eighth-seeded Eastern Conference franchise took Game 1 against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in shocking — and impressive — fashion. Now officially up 1-0 over the Bucks as a result of the opening-round playoff series, the Magic notably found themselves in a similar position last season as Orlando infamously stole Game 1 from the No. 2 seed and eventual NBA Champion Toronto Raptors to kick-off the 2018-19 postseason.
However, the Magic only edged the Raptors by three points, 104-101, last year while Orlando absolutely throttled the Bucks on Tuesday afternoon to the tune of a 12-point victory. Thanks to the Magic’s 122-110 win over the Bucks, the NBA landscape now knows a lot more about what both sides can bring to the table for the remainder of the series, which has suddenly turned into quite the intriguing clash between the highest and lowest seeds in the Eastern Conference.
Magic center Nikola Vucevic is going to be a problem for the Bucks all series long
There is absolutely no doubt who the star of the show was on Tuesday afternoon. No, it wasn’t Milwaukee Bucks superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, but rather Orlando Magic All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic did it all in Game 1 against the Bucks as the Magic rolled to victory from nearly start to finish with the veteran big man leading the way with a game-high 35 points. Adding 14 rebounds and four assists, Vucevic also sank 15 of his 24 shot attempts in addition to finishing the memorable outing 5-of-8 from behind the arc. Even with the aforementioned Antetokounmpo dropping 31 points, 17 rebounds, and seven assists of his own, it is abundantly clear that the Bucks will continue to have a hard time stopping Vucevic throughout this series, which could become a massive problem for Milwaukee in a hurry. Because Vucevic has the ability to shoot the three-ball in addition to finishing from mid-range and in the paint, the Bucks will need to specifically game plan for the Magic’s All-Star center, which obviously should have been something that head coach Mike Budenholzer should have been doing already.
Magic role players brought their “A-game” in Game 1 against Bucks
In addition to the stellar play of Orlando Magic All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, the rest of the team seemed to bring their “A-game” as well on Tuesday afternoon against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. With Vucevic no doubt leading the way to the tune of 35 points, 14 rebounds and four assists, point guard D.J. Augustin, swingman Terrence Ross, guard Markelle Fultz and forwards James Ennis III and Gary Clark all contributed in a big way as the Magic rolled to a 122-point output. Augustin tallied 11 points and 11 assists with Fultz and Clark each registering 11 points apiece. Ennis III added 11 points and eight rebounds with Ross scoring an impressive 18 points to coincide with his six boards. Thanks to the team’s well-rounded approach with the Magic far from full strength at the moment, Orlando will now enter Game 2 against the Bucks will some serious confidence and all of the momentum as Milwaukee will surely need to rethink its game plan. With seven Magic players scoring at least nine points and nine total players find their way onto the score sheet, perhaps Orlando can actually make this a series — which just about no one on Planet Earth expected to be the case entering Tuesday afternoon’s matchup.
The Raptors — and others — will be to be a huge problem for the Bucks should they advance
Although the Orlando Magic proved that they are a legitimate playoff team by defeating the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday afternoon, the eighth-seeded Eastern Conference franchise is certainly not a true title contender. With that being said, the Bucks aren’t the only threat to win an NBA title in the Eastern Conference this season as Milwaukee’s trouble with the Magic in Game 1 of the opening round series might have some of the other tops teams licking their chops at the moment. In other words, if the Bucks had this much trouble defending and attempting to outscore the lowly Magic, how will Milwaukee ultimately fair against the likes of the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics or even the Miami Heat? While the Bucks will still more than likely advance past the Magic similarly to what the Raptors were able to accomplish just a season ago, Milwaukee absolutely cannot look past Orlando until all four wins are 100 percent secured. Nonetheless, others throughout the NBA landscape certainly can while matchups against the Raptors, Celtics, Heat, and others could prove very costly for the Bucks if the team’s lackluster play continues.