The Orlando Magic are off to a slow 3-7 start. They have a lot of work to do to climb the Eastern Conference standings. And trends are already emerging.
The Orlando Magic were struggling out of the gate.
A really strong opening night victory gave way to a couple of disappointing defeats. A reprieve victory on the road over a marquee opponent and then a four-game losing streak.
The team at turns looked completely lost offensively, still struggling to figure out who they were and fine-tune their defense. Everything looked like more of the same. It was easy to see the problems as the team tried to build itself up.
The 10th game of the season was not a tipping point by any means. In fact, the game was a struggle where the team still did not have a sense of itself. The only saving grace was the comeback that happened and the buzzer-beater from Evan Fournier that brought the team to 4-6.
This was last year’s Magic team. They struggled through the first 10 games trying to figure out their new coach and the new way they had to play. Orlando did not yet have an identity.
The team was merely treading water. On the way for the Magic were one game away from coach Steve Clifford’s first press conference where he took no questions and made a public statement demanding more. It would not be the last time he would do that.
Still, it took the Magic a long time to get right. They tread water and were well below .500, briefly going 9-8 after back-to-back home wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks in mid-November, before making their ultimate push to the playoffs.
This year’s Magic team faces such different expectations. That first Clifford public demand came much earlier this year. Everything is a bit different with heightened expectations.
The one thing that is not is the team’s record. The Magic are a game behind where they were last year. But there is obviously a long way to go. Clifford will continue to say this team is better, but clearly something is still amiss.
Nothing is set in stone yet. The first 10 games obviously do not make an entire season. But there are already some trends forming and some observations set as the team begins to go through the rest of the season.
The Magic may not be who they ultimately will be on the court. But the beginnings of it are already there. For good and for bad.