Orlando Magic fans made an unforgettable atmosphere, failing to win is team’s biggest regret

The Amway Center and other NBA arenas will sit empty as the league has suspended the 2020 season. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
The Amway Center and other NBA arenas will sit empty as the league has suspended the 2020 season. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

In a year that saw an unexpected playoff run and an Orlando Magic team the whole city fell in love with, their failure to win at home will haunt them.

The Orlando Magic had their breathing room at last.

They forced a turnover on the first possession, then a Nikola Vucevic pop for a basket. It was the cleanest look Nikola Vucevic has gotten this entire series it seems. Then Aaron Gordon got down and dirty and forced Kawhi Leonard into a traveling violation.

He hit a 3-pointer on the next possession and the Amway Center became uncorked. It was as loud as it has ever been. Longtime Magic fans commenting on social media were left in wonder at how loud this building had become.

Orlando threw its first big punch of the series with a 7-0 lead to start. Everything was rolling and the building was energized. A franchise that has waited seven years to return to the playoffs got everything they wanted from the experience.

It felt like everyone would get lifted off with the team and this would become the party the playoffs promise they would be.

Orlando fans were behind the team all the way. They filled the Amway Center more and more as the season wore on and were cheering their team on from Wall Street while the team was on the road in the playoffs. They were full-throated and loud.

There was a buzz about this team — even as a seventh-seed — that the organization had not felt since their conference finals run in 2010. The Magic were the it thing.

The Magic just had to give them something to cheer for. And after the deafening noise of that 7-0 run to start the game, they were almost forced into silence.

Leonard scored 37 points and torched the Magic’s defense over and over again no matter how many players they threw at him. Leonard shut down every sense of a run the Orlando Magic might have in a 107-85 Game 4 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

The Magic fan base wanted something to cheer for. They have always wanted a reason to support the Magic through all the lean years.

They went wild at the end of the third quarter when Terrence Ross hit a 3-pointer to close the deficit to 12 and as the opening fanfare of Star Wars played to signal the start of the fourth quarter.

But Orlando could not sustain that momentum against Toronto’s lethal efficiency. It left the Magic with an empty feeling and a home crowd disappointed for their team.

"“It’s tough, man,” Evan Fournier said. “These fans have been waiting for these games for so long. It’s really disappointing not to get them a win. It’s a big reason why we want to come back here for a Game 6.”"

Evan Fournier said after his 1-for-12 Game 3 performance, he put a lot of pressure on himself to perform in that long-awaited game. For Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier, they eagerly awaited that first home playoff game as much as the fans did.

Going home unhappy

The disappointment from the team for failing to deliver for the fans in this weekend set of games was palpable after both Games 3 and 4. They knew the fans had waited for this moment to return to the playoffs as much as they had.

This moment was for them as much as it was for them. Everyone in the organization worked for this little taste of postseason basketball.

Even before the series began, players beamed at the thought of returning home for a playoff game. They all said it lived up to their expectations and what they had imagined Amway Center would feel like during a playoff game.

The team certainly did its part to set the mood and capture that anticipation.

In a brilliant historical montage complete with an epic movie trailer guy voice, the Magic asked the fans if they were ready to make history on this 30th anniversary season. That through all the disappointment and frustration, the Magic had achieved this goal. That Orlando was not here merely to be happy they appeared in the postseason but to win.

In a booming voice trumpeted by fire and smoke, it said, “Welcome to the NBA Playoffs.”


The stage was set for a weekend to celebrate the team and push them to upset the Toronto Raptors. Instead, it turned into a reminder of how far the team is from true contention and dug the team in a hole that will be difficult to climb out of.

The fans certainly stepped up. The team just struggled to deliver.

"“It’s very disappointing especially after we won one up there,” Vucevic said. “You put yourself in a good spot and you come back home and you dig yourself a hole, it’s disappointing. I’m disappointed we couldn’t get a win for our fans. They were great in both games. We just didn’t play at the level that we needed to win a playoff game at home.”"

The Raptors have had a lot to do with the Magic’s struggles. Orlando has been poor on offense. More than that, the team has been sloppy.

Even in building a 7-0 lead, Orlando turned it over twice and had another five turnovers in the first six minutes of the game. That had the Magic trailing after their spirited start. The team continues to struggle even with making pinpoint passes.

A series-long struggle

The whole series has been a long struggle.

The Raptors worked to silence the crowd. They killed every run quickly during a 30-16 second quarter and Leonard simply had an answer. The best player on the floor kept tearing apart the team.

Unlike so many times during the season, the Magic could not reach into their reserves and find a way to cut into the deficit. They were truly scrambled without anything they could rely on.

That is how much of this series has gone. The Raptors have an answer for every wrinkle the team throws at them. And their ability to turn the tide and gain confidence for long stretches has simply not been there.

A home crowd can lift and carry a team. But it needs something to lift and carry in the first place. The Amway Center crowd was eager to latch onto anything the Magic could give them. But the Magic were just struggling.

And so the Amway Center seemed to fall silent. They were a group loud enough for Raptors coach Nick Nurse to acknowledge the crowd noise made it difficult for him to communicate with his team during one timeout in Game 3.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

One more time?

Orlando fans brought it all weekend — through a torrential downpour on Friday to Fan Fest on Sunday and in the building. The Magic just could not deliver for them.

And that is the greatest regret of them all.

"“This city has been behind us all year long,” Gordon said. “Obviously, we wanted to get some wins, especially come playoff time. They did a great job giving us that energy and that belief. We really felt like the whole city was behind us. We’re going to go to Toronto and play hopefully the way we know how to play and potentially get back here and give them another game.”"

That is the only hope left for the team. To get them another game. To go up to Toronto and steal another victory to give the Magic faithful one more chance to cheer on this team they have come to adore.

It is the least they deserve it seems.

But like at the Amway Center, that will be all up to the Magic. It will be up to whether the Magic can break the spell the Raptors have cast over their offense and whether they can execute with the precision necessary to stay alive and defeat this tough Raptors team.

Winning a Game 6 at home to send the Amway Center crowd happy and force a Game 7 is another story entirely and equally tough — if not tougher.

Next. Grades: Toronto Raptors 107, Orlando Magic 85. dark

The weekend belonged to the Magic fans. It was their chance to celebrate the team. They took advantage of it. But they saw how far their team still has to go to deliver for them on this big stage.