Towards the beginning of the fourth quarter of Sunday’s contest between the Orlando Magic and the Sacramento Kings, Jonathan Isaac suffered a catastrophic ACL tear. Although the Magic came out victorious in an impressive performance, it was overshadowed by Isaac’s apparent injury.
Isaac suffered a left knee injury in January which caused him to miss 31 games. He later returned to the team in the NBA restart after recovering.
As the Magic seek the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference, here are some impacts of Isaac’s absence on the team:
Significantly Weaker Defensive
Johnathan Isaac is the clear centerpiece of the Magic’s defensive front. After Isaac’s absence in January, the Magic’s defensive rating dropped from 11th to 16th. This significant slip is sure to happen again as the Magic’s schedule intensifies.
Isaac has always been a clear candidate for the NBA All-Defensive team and is definitely a player who can lock down NBA stars.
With a meeting with the Toronto Raptors in the first round looming, the Magic had a promising strategy to lock down Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry. They have now lost a key component of their defense which will likely be exposed in the first round of the playoffs.
Isaac’s presence on the offensive side of the ball will also be missed tremendously. His presence allows defenders to focus on him rather than on players like Nikola Vucevic or Aaron Gordon. Vucevic, a player not used to defensive pressure, will likely now be the player defenses focus on.
Also, Orlando loses a perimeter and shooting threat in Isaac who provides them with a corner three-point specialist. In fact, Isaac shot above 39 percent this year from the corner.
The Magic are going to have to knock down many shots in order to defeat teams such as the Raptors or Celtics, and without Isaac, it becomes that much harder.
Conservative Approach to Fultz’s Full Return
Markelle Fultz as you may know did not arrive into the Orlando bubble until July 17th. Per Coach Steve Clifford, Fultz was “monstrously behind the team in conditioning” and still is not 100%. Fultz has continued to see a minutes restriction as the season has resumed.
Clifford is likely to hold out Fultz’s minute restriction after seeing what being too aggressive on Isaac’s return has resulted in. An injury to Fultz would kill team morale, and be detrimental to not only Fultz’s bounce-back season but also to a franchise currently on the rise.
Magic fans, although your star player has seen his 2019-2020 campaign come to an abrupt ending, and possibly the 2020-2021 season as well, continue to hold out hope as this franchise is on the rise.
We all saw what D.J. Augustin did against the Raptors in Toronto last playoffs, and it could very easily happen again.