The Orlando Magic are in the final quarter of the season. While the ultimate result for the year has long been decided, there are still questions to answer.
The Orlando Magic imagined they would look at the fourth quarter of their season and be watching the standings. The schedule set up favorably for them.
Their first quarter would be tough. It ended with a difficult stretch of road games. But they knew if they could survive that, it would come back around in the final 20-plus games of the season.
There, after a five-game road trip, Orlando would play seven straight home games to end March. This would be the time to make a major playoff push — even with the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors on the schedule.
That was in those dreamy November days. Now it feels like Magic fans look at that stretch with dread. They see the standings too. Orlando is watching the standings . . . just on the wrong end.
Yes, the final 20 games of the season are quickly about ping pong balls. That has consumed the attention of fans the rest of the way. The team will completely ignore them — sorry.
As things stand after Thursday’s games, Orlando is tied for the third-best odds at the Lottery. They have the third fewest wins in the league at 20. If you care about the race to the bottom, there is an eye on that. And, yes, that will be a storyline the rest of the year.
But the Magic still have some other questions to answer. Players are slowly getting healthy again.
Jonathan Isaac returned to the lineup and is making a steady impact on the team. As a representative of the team’s future, his development is a central focus the rest of the season.
The team has a few other young players to examine too. Managing the roster and managing how to build momentum and how to continue developing players will be paramount the rest of the year. The team has bigger questions to answer in the offseason.
For now, all Orlando can do is play the games in front of them. And get the most out of them that they can.