Orlando Magic do not plan to give up down 3-1 to Toronto Raptors

Orlando Magic players cheer from the bench during action against the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of the first-round NBA Playoff game at the Amway Center on Friday, April 19, 2019. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Orlando Magic players cheer from the bench during action against the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of the first-round NBA Playoff game at the Amway Center on Friday, April 19, 2019. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic are down to their last out as they take on the Toronto Raptors on the road. The team still believes they have the fight in them to win.

Things were not breaking the Orlando Magic’s way when the Charlotte Hornets defeated the Detroit Pistons on the final day of the season. The very narrow path the Hornets had to make the playoffs was opening. The Orlando Magic still had road games with the Boston Celtics and then the Charlotte Hornets for their shot to get in.

Orlando controlled its own destiny but the anxiety was palpable (among fans at least).

The Magic had spent the whole season to that point rallying from deficits and trying to scratch and claw their way in. Down at 20-31 at one point, their chances of making the playoffs were low. The team seemed to be skating toward another lost season.

Then came the run. The Magic rallied and found their identity and confidence grew and grew. They were never truly out of any game as their defense locked in and everything started to click for them.

But there was still that last game to take care of and all the nerves.

It was not an elimination game. But it felt like it when Orlando went down by as much as 13 and it seemed the worst nightmare would come true.

The Magic had a response. They have always had a response.

Every time anyone wanted to count them out or say they were done, they responded. They shocked the league and climbed to 42-40 — sweeping those final two games and leaving no doubt of their place in the playoffs with the seventh seed.

The Magic have had their backs against the wall before and rose to the occasion.

But this is undoubtedly different. This is a playoff series. The end is really here with another loss. And the task against the Toronto Raptors is undoubtedly tall.

"“We have always been good playing with our backs against the wall,” Aaron Gordon said. “The message is to go out and get a win and bring it back to our home floor. We can’t accomplish that, it’s anybody’s series if we can bring it back to our home floor and play another game here.”"

The Magic can draw from their mad scramble to get into the playoffs in the final weeks of the season. Orlando had to make up ground in the last eight games to make the postseason.

But this is it. There is no do-over. No other game to play after a loss. No more ground to make up.

Win or go home

Tuesday the Magic face elimination, trailing in their playoff series with the Raptors 3-1. The Magic will have to win twice on the road to advance. And there is no longer any room for error.

The team will get its biggest test of adversity this season. If they go down will they fold or will they continue to fight back? This team has consistently proven its fight but now everything is on the line.

There can be no letting go of the rope. The Raptors will have plenty of motivation to close this one out at home too.

"“Our guys have fought hard all year,” coach Steve Clifford said. “I think that we’ll try hard. I have to continue to look for ways to help. We don’t have a lot of room for error. it is going to take a commitment to quick decisions, ball movement and pass the ball on target to the open guy beside you.”"

Then again, effort has never really been the problem. The Magic have fought plenty throughout this series. It is the execution that has been lacking this series.

The team has struggled to get much going offensively in the last three games — its 96.0 offensive rating is the second-worst in the league sandwiched between the now-eliminated Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons.

The Magic have done all the things they cannot do against the Raptors. They have turned the ball over at an alarming rate, creating opportunities for the Raptors to go up against a defense that is not set. Orlando at least has a chance when the defense is set.

But the team’s poor offensive execution throughout this series has kept the team from staying competitive for long stretches. Since the end of Game 1, Orlando has seemingly been making an uphill climb.

Clifford has given a ton of credit to the Raptors’ defense. He has repeatedly acknowledged how difficult it is to break this defense down. But he has also expressed his disappointment with the team’s struggles to execute.

The Magic certainly do control a lot of their own fate in that sense. Yes, the margin for error was small already going up against this defense without the threat of playoff elimination. But good execution will at least give the Magic a chance.

Belief they can win

The most important thing though is the belief. The team cannot feel defeated or believe the series is already over. And this team has never been short of belief in themselves, no matter the odds.

"“Our backs are against the wall right now,” Nikola Vucevic said. “We can’t lose anymore. We’ve just got to go out there and give it all. We have to keep believing that we can do this and turn the series around. It’s not an easy position to be down 3-1 going back there. We have to fight until the end. I think this team has it in us. We’re fighters. We just have to go out there and try to win the game and come back here to home court.”"

The Magic continue to harp on their Game 1 victory. They know they can win in the Scotiabank Arena. They have had success there which they can draw from. It is not impossible to get the win.

Nikola Vucevic said the team knows it has an extra level to it that they have not been able to reach for this series. If they find it, then they could get themselves back into the series.

The real question is whether the team can execute at the level they have to if they want to win. That has been the part they have struggled with all series. They certainly have it in them to do so.

This game will be more about dealing with adversity than any before it. Orlando cannot get frustrated or give into mistakes. They certainly cannot let go of the rope too soon. They have to keep grinding and finding a way, using their defense to make up for their offensive deficiencies.

They have to believe they can still win the whole series. And it starts with Game 5.

"“It’s not over until it’s over,” D.J. Augustin said. “We have to go in there and try to get us another win like we did in Game 1 and hopefully come back and get home court. Just keep playing, that’s all you can do. Now for us it’s lose, we go home. With that in mind, we just leave it on the floor.”"

That is all Orlando can do now.

Next. Orlando Magic get to see value of Ross-Ibaka trade. dark

The Magic are not wavering in their belief they have the ability to make this epic comeback. Whether they will or not is completely dependent on what happens on the court.