The Orlando Magic are picking up speed in time for the playoff chase

Struggles early in the year could have led the Orlando Magic to give up on young players like Aaron Gordon and Mo Bamba. But they have progressed and paid dividends for the Magic. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Struggles early in the year could have led the Orlando Magic to give up on young players like Aaron Gordon and Mo Bamba. But they have progressed and paid dividends for the Magic. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic seem on their way to catching the Brooklyn Nets for the seventh seed. Only if they can keep their play up and make a push to the postseason.

The Orlando Magic went into the All-Star Break on a high note winning two straight games.

It left everyone feeling better about the team as it dealt with a rough stretch in the schedule. They had a chance to take a breath and prepare for the sprint to the postseason.

The Magic did not have the closing kick into the break they had last year. But they were showing signs they could again be due for a strong finish.

During the break itself, there were moments where people could point to the team coming together off the court as much as on the court. This could be Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier, Wesley Iwundu and their families vacationing together or Markelle Fultz assisting Aaron Gordon at the dunk contest or just the general rest they got to refresh for the final push to the playoffs.

The question was whether the Magic could put that potential onto the court, or they would struggle to put run together as they have done all season long.

The 122-106 loss to the Dallas Mavericks was not a good start. Coach Steve Clifford said after the game, the team did some good things. And they missed a lot of open shots in that game that hurt their chances to win.

Something was stirring.

Since then the Magic have put together a strong pair of games against the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks. Suddenly, the Magic have won four out of their last five and have climbed to within a half-game of seventh in the Eastern Conference. They have opened up a much more comfortable 4.5-game lead over the Washington Wizards for the final playoff spot.

Players are starting to play with confidence, and the Magic seem like they may yet have a strong run in them to close out the season.

The win against the Brooklyn Nets resembled the win against the Memphis Grizzlies from last season. The Magic were down 19 and roared back winning 115-113.

The story of this game was Aaron Gordon. He played one of the best games in his career, posting a stat line of 27 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal. He took over the game on both ends, securing the game with a block on Caris LeVert and making all seven of his shots in the fourth quarter.

Gordon has turned a bit of a corner as he has become healthy in the last few weeks. In his last 10 games, Gordon is averaging 19.9 points per game and 9.0 rebounds per game while shooting 48.3 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc. He has added 5.0 assists per game, showing how his all-around game has improved and made an impact.

Orlando also got strong contributions from Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross and Nikola Vucevic. Clifford stated it was a good win, but it would not matter if the Magic came out flat and lost to the Hawks.

The game against the Hawks was yet another good sign the Magic will go on a run.

Gordon had another strong performance, as did Fournier. But the story of the game was Mo Bamba.

He scored 15 points to go with 10 rebounds and four blocks. Mohamed Bamba has shown progression this year, and he will be important to the Magic’s success as the season comes to a finish.

His ability to spread the floor and make shots while also having the ability to challenge and block shots gives the bench the ability to play a lot more effectively. Bamba leads the league in block percentage among players with 200 or more minutes. He has become a veritable defensive force.

The Magic seem well on their way to catching the Nets for the seventh seed if they can keep their play up as they are only a half a game behind them.

The Magic must finish seventh in the East. It will only happen if their best players continue to play better and finally show what most people thought they would look like to start the year. The last two game have seen the Magic play to their potential.

Orlando is playing strong basketball. But each game is a new test. And consistency has been the biggest thing this team has struggled to grasp.

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If the Magic can continue this play, then they will be a dangerous team by the end of the year. And they will make another run to secure their playoff spot.