If the Orlando Magic miss the playoffs, it will be their own fault

The Orlando Magic will have every advantage when the NBA season resumes. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic will have every advantage when the NBA season resumes. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images) /

The NBA seems set to return and has a plan in place that will give every advantage to the Orlando Magic. If they miss the Playoffs now, it’s their own fault.

There was a certain amount of hand-wringing when it came to the Orlando Magic and the plans for the NBA season to return from the coronavirus.

The league had to balance respecting the regular season as it was played to this point and respect giving teams outside the playoff picture a chance to play for something, making the trip to Disney and the campus site worth their time.

Ideas far outside the norm got suggested — including group play — and ideas that were more mainstream — like a straight play-in game — were also offered. The league had a lot on its table and no 100-percent solution to fix the problem.

Thursday, the league is expected to announce its return-to-play plan.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the plan seems to balance all these interests, giving a team in eighth place like the Magic every opportunity to secure the NBA playoff spot it likely has already earned.

Wojnarowski reported the league will invite 22 teams to Disney to complete the season with an eight-game regular season beginning July 31 followed by potential play-in games for the eighth seed and then the regular Playoffs.

Only nine teams from the Eastern Conference will make the trip to Orlando with the Washington Wizards joining the fray.

They will have to make up a 1.5-game deficit and finish within four games of the eighth-seed to force a play-in game. The Wizards would then have to beat the eighth seed twice to steal their playoff spot.

The deck is certainly stacked against the Wizards making the playoffs. The Magic have every advantage they should have to secure their playoff spot. The Wizards will have to play some incredible basketball to close the season and make up the ground and defeat the Magic twice to get in.

At this point, if the Magic do not get into the Playoffs, they will have no one to blame but themselves. They have every advantage and a relatively easy pathway in. It would take an utter collapse for them to miss the Playoffs at this point.

The clear expectation and the only acceptable outcome is for the Magic to make the Playoffs. Anything else should be considered a failure.

If they have to face the potential of a play-in tournament with the Wizards, then something has gone terribly wrong.

This is where everyone should note the Magic swept the Wizards, blowing them out in their third game even after Jonathan Isaac went down with an injury on New Years’ Day. And then blowing them out again in their final game without Isaac in mid-January.

Even a .500 record in the eight-game regular season would almost assuredly put the Magic in the postseason. For Washington to qualify for a play-in tournament if Orlando finishes 4-4, Washington would have to go 6-2 to get to 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot.

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That is a fairly low goal. But considering how much the Magic struggled against winning teams this year — the Magic are 5-26 against teams with a record better than .500, the worst record among teams going to the bubble — perhaps it is not a sure thing. Then again, the Wizards have the second-worst mark with just six wins (6-18).

Everything is set up for the Magic to make the Playoffs. They would have to play extremely poorly even in the heightened campus setting with all those great teams in place to miss the Playoffs at this point.

It will not be easy. But it is certainly achievable.  A low bar to clear.

Orlando does not need to win many games to clinch its playoff spot — the magic number is now six Orlando wins or six Washington losses. It is not clear how the league will construct remaining schedules — will they seed teams and construct something resembling balanced schedules or try to respect the remaining schedules when the season went on hold? — and that may play a factor.

But still, the Magic have every advantage here. They have a regular season to get to .500 and clinch a playoff spot. Failing that, if they go to a play-in game, they have an extra game to get themselves in.

The Wizards have to climb many hurdles just to have a chance. The Magic just have to take care of their business.

Orlando still has a lot to play for beyond avoiding the play-in tournament with Washington. The Orlando Magic cans till catch the Brooklyn Nets for seventh in the Eastern Conference. And that is certainly something to play for too.

The Magic should enter the resumed season focused on the team ahead of them as much as the team behind them.

They should really be focused on themselves because ultimately they control their own destiny. And that destiny is still the same as it was in mid-March. The Magic have a little more work to do to make the Playoffs and the chance to jump up a spot to seventh.

Without any extreme gimmick and all these advantages built-in, the pressure is still there. The Magic should expect to make the Playoffs. And failing to do so should be considered a failure in the bigger picture for this team.

Next. Orlando Magic need to rely on depth when season resumes. dark

If Orlando misses the Playoffs now, they have no one to blame but themselves.