Orlando’s Remaining Goals

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With the season winding down, the Magic are looking to accomplish a couple of goals – win their third straight Southeast Division Title, clinch the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference and pass the Los Angeles Lakers to earn the second best record in the NBA, giving them homecourt advantage should the two meet in the NBA Finals for the second straight season. The first two goals can be achieved with a win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday evening (or with an Atlanta Hawks loss to Charlotte on Tuesday night).

The Magic are currently one game behind the Los Angeles Lakers but would have to finish a game ahead of the Lakers because they hold the tie-breaker.

Update: John Hollinger discussed a possible tie here.

"One other interesting item to file away: The Lakers are no longer assured of hosting a potential Finals rematch against Orlando. L.A. still projects to beat them out, 59 wins to 58, but the door is definitely open for the Magic to claim the upper hand. The Magic and Lakers split the season series (1-1) and play in opposite conferences, so the tie-break is going to come down to one of the oddball items well down the tie-break list (I believe record against playoff teams). In the meantime, L.A. needs to take care of business because Orlando has five near-automatic wins left on its slate and its April 11 game at Cleveland may be against the Cavs’ scrubs."

Here’s a look at both teams remaining schedules:

Los Angeles

Thursday, April 8th – @ Denver

Friday, April 9th – @ Minnesota

Sunday, April 11th – Portland

Tuesday, April 13th – Sacramento

Wednesday, April 14th – @ Los Angeles Clippers

Orlando

Wednesday, April 7th – Washington

Friday, April 9th – New York

Sunday, April 11th – @ Cleveland

Monday, April 12th – @ Indiana

Wednesday, April 14th – Philadelphia

Neither team has an overly difficult schedule, but the Lakers must play two playoff teams while the Magic only face one and that team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, will have home court advantag throughout the playoffs.

Also keep in mind that Lakers Center Andrew Bynum may be out another week or two with an injured left Achilles’ tendon.

After Sunday’s win over Memphis, Van Gundy made is obvious that he’d like to pass the Lakers and has been keeping up with their wins and losses.

“The Lakers lost today, we’re a game behind them,” Van Gundy said. “Now you don’t know if that situation will even come up. Both teams would have to win three series so look, the odds are that that doesn’t come up. But at the same time, you just want to play for every possible advantage you could have going forward. You’d hate to be in that situation in a month-and-a-half and look back and say, “boy, you know if we would have played with more sense of purpose, we might be playing these games at home.” So yeah, that’s still out there. There’s always something to play for, plus you’re playing to get better and improve and everything else.”

It’s safe to say that these comments, combined with the intensity and emotion Orlando showed in the third quarter of Sunday night’s game, shows the Magic do believe there is still something to play for in the regular season.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks and Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).