The 8 games we are looking forward to most on Orlando Magic’s schedule

The Orlando Magic will have to hit the ground running and find momentum quickly when the season resumes.(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic will have to hit the ground running and find momentum quickly when the season resumes.(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /
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Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
All eyes at the trade deadline for the Orlando Magic are on Evan Fournier. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

August 4 — vs. Indiana Pacers (6 p.m.)

The Orlando Magic’s biggest weakness this season has been the inability to win big games. Yes, the Magic scored big wins over the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies right before the break. They can count on wins against the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers (twice) in their ledger.

But that is pretty much the extent of the Magic’s marquee wins. Their five wins against teams with record better than .500 are the fewest among teams in the bubble.

Of course, all those under-.500 teams are largely gone from the schedule — they still fill half the Magic’s schedule. But this sprint to the finish is going to test the Magic’s ability to play against the very best teams in the league.

Fortunately for them, perhaps, they are easing into it somewhat. The Nets game is vitally important and the Kings are a competitive team but not nearly at the level of the Playoff teams remaining on the schedule.

The Pacers though are a team that might be kind of in the sweet spot. A team the Magic should be able to truly measure themselves against.

That is how Orlando felt when Indiana visited the Amway Center in November. Players all talked about needing to win those early-season games against teams at their same level.

Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers /

Indiana Pacers

And they fell short. The Pacers won 109-102. Coach Steve Clifford called out his team’s poor defensive intensity in the game. The Magic had relied on their defense plenty to that point in the season and it let them down as Malcolm Brogdon fired mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper.

The second meeting in Indianapolis two weeks later went much the same way. Indiana won that game 111-106, gaining some distance late.

Orlando was still struggling to measure up to a team like Indiana. The Pacers are something of a model the Magic want to follow — with Victor Oladipo the clear difference between the teams at the moment.

The Magic have not seen the Pacers though since that early stage of the season. Brogdon missed much of the rest of the season but he should be fine to play now that time has passed before the season resumed (he should also be recovered from testing positive for COVID-19 by the time the games begin).

Oladipo still has not committed to playing as he continues his recovery from his injury. He has been in and out of the lineup throughout the year.

But the Pacers have kept on chugging along. Anchored by Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner in the post and one of the best defenses in the league — seventh by defensive rating.

The Pacers do not have any single dominant scorer or player. They break teams down defensively and with crisp passing and discipline. They are in many ways readymade for this kind of setting.

But they could also fall apart without that one key player to drive them forward. Same as the Magic.

100. Prediction. 98. 38. 99