The Orlando Magic have been one of the best stories in the NBA this season. After toiling in the middle to bottom of the NBA ever since trading Dwight Howard back in 2012, the Magic have a bright and exciting young core. That core has begun winning games seemingly way ahead of schedule.

Orlando entered this season with the fifth-youngest roster in the NBA with an average age of 24.792. That didn't stop them from winning 47 games and earning themselves the fifth-seed in the Eastern Conference. But that isn't to say they don't have a fatal flaw.

Orlando got there on the back of their defense. They ended the regular season with the third-best defensive rating in the entire NBA. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics were the only teams to edge them in that department.

They're is huge everywhere on the floor and that allows them to engulf just about every opponent they play. That's great, but it does come at a cost that showed up in Game 1 of their series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It could continue to loom large as that series goes on. The Magic are not a good offensive team.

Poor Shooting could be final nail in Magic's coffin

Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley talks during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers during game one of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando finished the regular season with the league's 22nd-best offense. The Magic have not had a top 20 offense in a season since 2012. That's impossible and unthinkable, but nothing truly is outside of the realm of imagination in Disneyland.

A big reason why the Magic are stuck in the mud offensively is the lack of shooting on their team. They shot just 35.2% from three in the regular season, which ranked 24th in the league.

The Cavaliers apparently have League Pass and noticed. They emphasized protecting the paint and rim loudly and emphatically in Game 1. That meant helping a lot off of Orlando's off-ball players to either take the ball out of Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner's hands or take difficult contested shots.

It worked. Banchero and Wagner still got theirs, but the rest of the Magic struggled. Those two shot 16-32 from the field. Outside of them, Orlando shot 12-54 for an awful 22.2% shooting percentage.

The Cavaliers present a tough matchup for Orlando. They can match Orlando in size with their menacing frontcourt of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Mobley often took the assignment of Banchero and did a great job doing so.

But even if the Magic wanted to force a mismatch for Banchero, Cleveland has counters with another seven-foot rim protector in the backline of their defense. When Mobley sat, Cleveland had Georges Niang bang with Banchero and Allen roam in the paint to take away any drives from Orlando's All-Star.

Potential Magic solutions

It's tough for any team to score relying on a steady diet of shots like this, but especially for a young squad without much shooting like Orlando. One potential counter could be to shift some of their offense to a creative guard, but the Magic don't really have a sparkplug scorer like that. Cole Anthony is the closest thing they have to that. He was 0-7 from the field on Saturday.

The best way Orlando can create offense in this series is through their defense. They have to buy themselves easy looks in transition to keep up with the Cavs. Cleveland didn't score it that great either. They only put up 97 points and committed 17 turnovers. If the Magic can get stops, they can catch Cleveland's defense disorganized and pounce on that when they get the chance.

Simply making shots would help. Orlando created some good looks with ball and player movement in the halfcourt. They know Cleveland is going to dare them to make shots. The Magic have to keep shooting and hopefully make more threes than the eight they made on 37 attempts.

It won't be easy or pretty, but the Magic have avenues to make up for being a lackluster shooting team. Hopefully, for their sake, they have a better offensive performance in Game 2.