Orlando Magic’s playoff goal is to steal a win again

The Orlando Magic have had a tough time against their likely playoff opponents. But the goal remains to steal a game again. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic have had a tough time against their likely playoff opponents. But the goal remains to steal a game again. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic are gearing up for the remainder of the 2020 season, and the goal will be to take a game in the first round again.

The time is almost here.

The coronavirus pandemic is still more prevalent than ever, but a plan has been established and league officials plan on returning to some sort of normalization in the months to come.

Experts say that coronavirus cases in Florida have risen after the state reopened and growing support from protests against racial inequality from the George Floyd movement (although there is very little evidence other than the mass gatherings to suggest the protests helps the virus spread — many protesters wore masks to protect themselves while marching).

The NBA is targeting July 30 for a restart date, oddly enough, it looks like the Magic will have some kind of home-court advantage in all eight of their regular-season games before the Playoffs.

That home-court advantage only extends as far as the bus ride to Disney. Nobody likes getting on a plane.

This is a good time for fans in Central Florida.  The Orlando Magic seem to have turned a corner and have come out of the rut that had the franchise looking like a joke a few years before last year’s loss to the NBA champion Toronto Raptors in the Playoffs.

While 22 teams get ready to play in a bubble, the Magic find themselves in a very opportunistic situation. This young team has to be able to lock in both offensively and defensively.

The Orlando Magic at 30-35 and 5.5 games up on the Washington Wizards for the final playoff spot. With the Wizards’ expected difficult schedule and the need to make up two games to force a play-in game, the Magic likely will make the Playoffs in consecutive years. But once again, they will play a team with championship aspirations.

This is exactly what the team needs, to battle against a superior foe and learn from a team who may represent the East in the Finals.

The Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) boast the best record in the NBA and flaunt arguably the best player in the league too. Throughout NBA history, the team with the best record and the best player usually ends up hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

That could be true this year, but it does not have anything to do with the fact the Magic could possibly take a game away from the Bucks in the first round. For a young team, proving they could stand up even for a game against the best in the league.

The team has gained more confidence since their brief stint in last year’s first round. It helped them survive a year full of injuries.

That is what the Magic proved last year. They hoped to ride some of that confidence and momentum forward.

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Last year it happened in Game 1. With the game on the line against the Raptors, D.J. Augustin almost dribbled out the remaining 24 seconds off of the clock and drilled a game-winning three with 3.4 seconds left.

The shot left the fans in Toronto stunned as the Magic took a 1-0 lead in the series.

It was a cold-blooded shot as Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol switched on the pick and roll. And Augustin is still a contributor to the team.

It was all the moment the Magic needed. Their only regret in that series was not getting a game at the Amway Center for Magic fans who suffered through the seven-year postseason drought. Coach Steve Clifford said his biggest disappointments was how the Raptors thoroughly dominated them the rest of the series.

Orlando did its best. But the Raptors were far too good. Getting the one game was a success in itself.

He will be needed as much now as he was then, not just because he can hit clutch threes, his veteran leadership cannot be ignored on a young team looking to improve.

The Magic are likely to face the Raptors or Bucks. The Magic have had their struggles against both so far this season.

The Bucks swept the Magic in the season series with the closest margin of defeat at nine points — the average margin of defeat was 17.0 points per game. The Raptors won the first three matchups of their series with relative ease — although not as heavy as the Bucks series. Orlando and Toronto may still play one more time.

The Magic will have the opportunity to show the world just how good or how much better they have improved before they resume play. The league’s spotlight is likely to be brighter even on the regular-season games.

Orlando will have to step up in the spotlight. And the goal is the same as it was last year — play a competitive series and get a game. At least that will be a sign the team has not totally regressed.

Next. Where we left the Orlando Magic: Offense comes around. dark

The first game will probably be the best game to sneak away from the opposition just last year.