Analyzing the Cavs’ defense on Orlando Magic wing Evan Fournier

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Orlando Magic wing Evan Fournier is one of several NBA players who simply know how to score.

Fournier is playing his eighth season, and so far, it’s been one of his best. He’s averaging 17.7 points a game, and he’s shooting a career-high 42.4% from the 3-point line.

The Cleveland Cavaliers certainly struggled to keep track of him Wednesday in their 116-104 loss to Orlando. Fournier scored a season-high 30 points and shot 44.4% from the 3-point line. For Fournier, getting to the midrange and sinking shots isn’t usually an issue. He thrives coming off screens for jumpers, too. He can even get to the hoop a bit.

Fournier is the fifth player this season to score 30 or more points against the Cavs. The other four players are Malcolm Brogdon, Gordon Hayward, Julius Randle and Luka Doncic.

The second quarter was when the Magic started to shoot better, and Fournier had one of the team’s best outings in the quarter. He scored 12 points, taking advantage of the Cavs’ defense crumbling.

Per NBA.com, the shot charts below show how Fournier did the brunt of his work in the second and third quarters, when Cleveland’s defense was at its worst. The Cavs lost both the second and third quarters each by seven points. According to NBA.com stats, the Magic shot 52.2% in the third.

Evan Fournier's second quarter shot chart

Magic wing Evan Fournier started to get his rhythm in the second quarter.

Evan Fournier's third quarter shot chart

Evan Fournier started his rhythm in the second quarter, but he played better in the third quarter.

The Cavs gave Fournier too much space, allowing him to get shots off whenever he wanted.

In the second and third quarters, he took 15 field goal attempts; two-thirds of his 22 for the game. What Fournier did in the second quarter well was use his 6-foot-7 frame to create space.

At about five seconds in the video below, Fournier sizes up Darius Garland. As he made his move, Fournier gave Garland a nudge, which allowed him to take an open shot.

He shot 40% from the field in the quarter, but he got off 10 shots. The second quarter likely got him into rhythm. The third quarter was better in terms of percentage, as Fournier shot 60% from the field. As shown in his third-quarter shot chart above, Fournier made two of his three midrange jumpers. He also made a 3-pointer.

“Tonight we lost him (Fournier) a little bit, and he got hot, and when a guy like that gets hot, it’s tough to slow him down,” Larry Nance Jr. said. “So we just got to stay attached to the body, be a little more physical.”

At times, the Cavs contested Fournier’s shots well, or they forced him into taking a bad shot. A volume scorer, Fournier is second on the Magic in field goal attempts.

Aside from Fournier, though, the Cavs also had Terrence Ross to worry about. Ross is similar to Fournier in his scoring ability, but he’s more athletic and can get to the rim easier.

Ross scored 16 points and shot 58.3% from the field. Ross had an uncharacteristic 3-point outing, as he shot 1-of-5 from deep. Tristan Thompson said Ross is good at coming over screens and seamlessly going into his shooting motion.

“So it’s really hard to guard that, and if you pressure up too much, he’s so athletic, he can get to the rim,” Thompson said. “So he’s definitely a tough matchup, and then with Fournier, we had him take a lot of tough twos. You’ve got to live with that, but he was rolling. But at the end of the day, we gotta know he’s their primary scorer now, especially without (Vucevic) and (Aaron) Gordon.”

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