Kim Klement/USA TODAY
In the month of December so far the Magic have spent a grand total of four days at home, playing just one home game. In that time, Orlando has traveled approximately 7,630 (driving) miles in the course of 16 days.
It has been a long and winding slog throughout the nation these past nine games that finally ended with the 83-82 win over the Bulls on Monday.
Now the Magic get to enjoy some home cooking for the next two weeks (before another long road trip, this time out West). And, at 8-17 and 2.5 games outside of the final Playoff spot, the next two weeks, much like the previous two weeks, will be a time for the team to establish itself some and figure out where it might shake out in the Eastern Conference pecking order for the rest of the year.
"We just want to play well and that's the approach that we have to have," Jacque Vaughn said. "I don't know what the outcome is going to be. But our approach has to be really good. We have to be focused and take care of business while we are home."
Vaughn said that while it is nice to be sleeping in his own bed, it is the routine of being at home that will be most important for the Magic. A few weeks on the road have taken the team a bit out of its routine and eaten into practice time.
With Tobias Harris and Glen Davis still working their way back into the rotation from injuries, the time to work at the Amway Center practice court will help them get their legs back under them and integrated into the lineup more comfortably.
It is important to remember that home games only present an opportunity for victory, not necessarily guaranteed wins. And for several guys, it is a chance to refine their games as they head into the meat of the season.
"It's going to be important for me to get my game back where it needs to be and get my rhythm out on the floor and more importantly for us to win games," Tobias Harris said. "I'm going to keep embracing that and keep bringing energy night in and night out to our team. That's what I just look to do."
This season, the Magic are 5-6 at home. Their stats are better at home than on the road by a fairly significant margin. Especially their offense. The Magic have a 101.1 offensive rating at home compared to a 97.1 offensive rating on the road. The team posts a 51.9 percent effective field goal percentage at home compared to 47.9 percent on the road.
These are not insignificant statistics. But they are also expected. Young teams typically play better when they do so from the comforts of their home floor.
That is why the early December road trip is typically a strong test for the Magic and where the team's character and expectations can truly be evaluated.
Orlando typically takes the long road trip in early December with a long homestand through the end of the month. That is what the schedule usually hatches out with every year.
"We still have a lot of work to do, I think that's the most important thing," Jacque Vaughn said. "We weren't healthy. What I'm going to do is take these next hopefully 20 games that we're healthy and gauge where we are. I think that this is maybe three or four games that we have everybody.
"But on the road it's tough. And it teaches you that you ahve to be more perfect, more mistakes, and that's the lesson of winning and losing games on the road."
The Holidays will serve as a small distraction to the goal of holding a successful homestand.
But the team, several players including Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris, said wins would be the perfect Christmas gift.
Considering the quality of opponent coming into the Amway Center in the next few weeks — only two teams the Magic will face are currently above .500 — there is an opportunity to get some wins if the Magic continue to improve and execute the way they know how.
Orlando might very well start the new year on a very high note.