Orlando Magic will need another late-season run to finish seventh again

The Orlando Magic are currently on a two-game winning streak and will need to continue their winning ways in order to move back into the seventh seed of the Eastern Conference.

The Orlando Magic are not proving to be a better team than they were last year. At the All-Star Break, the Magic are just a game ahead of last year’s pace at this time last year.

Although the team is a top-five team when it comes to the opponent’s points in the paint and a top-10 team when it comes to defensive rating, the Magic have really struggled with the opposition.

This two-game winning streak against the Atlanta Hawks and the Detroit Pistons feels more like fool’s gold rather than great wins by a Playoff-bound team. It might have provided a temporary reprieve, but it did not exactly inspire confidence. Especially considering the Magic struggled defensively in the win over the Hawks and had to rally to force overtime to defeat the Pistons.

Those two teams have a combined 34 wins on the year. The Magic are supposed to beat these teams convincingly. They should not need the season’s best offensive performance and a last-second shot to force overtime to get those vital victories.

Instead, the Magic won in overtime 116-112 against a team that nobody respects after the loss of Andre Drummond. In addition, the 135-126 victory against the Hawks really did not prove anything besides the fact that the Magic can beat the teams that they are supposed to beat.

It is definitely better to win those kinds of games than lose them because the Magic are only three games ahead of the lowly Washington Wizards for the final spot in the playoffs.

A little bit of confidence can go a long way. As could an All-Star Break that would allow the Magic to reset their focus and recover from any lingering injuries.

The Magic have to continue their winning ways.

No matter who the opponent is and no matter how much they win b,y the Magic have to find a way to continue piling up victories. The Eastern Conference playoff race might be a race to the bottom. But the magic do not want to allow teams like the Washington Wizards or Chicago Bulls to have any hope.

Besides, the team can still climb to seventh. The Orlando Magic trail the Brooklyn Nets by two games for seventh with three meetings remaining between the two teams. Fighting for seventh is vital to avoid the historically good Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. A series against the Bucks will surely end in a sweep.

Although the Magic went on a heroic run after last year’s All-Star Break, they should not rely on another late-season Playoff push to make the seventh seed. But it looks as if that is what it will take in order for the team to make the seventh seed in consecutive years.

The Magic closed out the season last year on a 22-9 run to secure the seventh seed, and if they want to make the seventh seed this year, a similar run will need to be made.

Which makes for an interesting last couple of months of the season. Now the question becomes do the Magic have enough defensive firepower to move into the seventh seed without Jonathan Isaac. And will the high-flying Brooklyn Nets have some type of let down or some type of losing streak moving forward after winning seven of their last 10 games?

These questions will be answered after the 2020 NBA All-Star Break. The Magic have to find a way to continue their streak after losing seven of their last 10 games. They at least entered the break on a positive note.

The Magic do not have any All-Stars this year, so they should be able to focus on what needs to be done moving forward. The seventh seed is very important in this year’s Eastern Conference.

The Bucks (46-8) have been on a tear this year boasting arguably the best player in basketball in Giannis Antetokounmpo and the best defense in the NBA. Milwaukee swept its season series with Orlando with no game decided by fewer than 10 points. And even the close games were virtual blowouts. Milwaukee is on pace to become the third team to win 70 games in NBA history.

The Magic will be an early exit if they do not move up from the eighth seed of the Eastern Conference.

The teams in second would appear to be easier matchups — although there is no easy matchup when you are the 7-seed.

The Toronto Raptors (40-15) were the hottest team in the NBA very recently as they put together a string of 15 wins before having it snapped by losing to the Brooklyn Nets.

The Raptors were the 2-seed in last year’s playoffs and disposed of the Magic in five games. That was with Kawhi Leonard on their way to a championship.

However, Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry have more than picked up the slack. The team is dynamic and dangerous. Toronto has beaten Orlando fairly easily in three meetings this season. The Magic will not see them again until the last game of the season.

Matching up with the Raptors will be difficult without Jonathan Isaac, as it would for any team. But the Orlando Magic certainly could be more competitive against a team like the Toronto Raptors — or the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat, for that matter — than playing the Milwaukee Bucks.

For the Magic to get the most of their playoff appearance, they need to have a fighting chance to get a game. And learning to win and playing for something is a much more effective mode for growth.

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And that is why the Magic need to get to seventh. Just so they can have a chance for a big playoff moment as they had last year when D.J. Augustin won Game 1.

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