3. July 26 — Jonathan Isaac returns
Think back to late July.
There is excitement about the league returning. Teams had already spent a few weeks inside the NBA campus and exhibition scrimmages are already taking place. Teams are gearing up for the Seeding Round and the sprint to the playoffs.
That would have been enough to see the NBA back and playing meaningful games.
But then in the final scrimmage game against the Denver Nuggets, the Orlando Magic got a gift. A big one too.
Jonathan Isaac returned to the floor for the first time since injuring his knee in January. And it brought a breath of life to the team.
In that first game against the Nuggets, he scored 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting. He hit 3-pointers with ease.
That would have been one thing. But it carried over into the team’s first game of the seeding round where he scored 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting in 17 minutes. Isaac had become an efficient and devastating scoring machine.
If the Magic truly believed they could make noise in the bubble, it was uplifted by Isaac’s return. The team was excited to have their teammate back and excited for what he could bring the team.
That is why it was equally deflating when in the team’s second seeding round game against the Sacramento Kings when Isaac went down with a torn ACL. Everyone immediately knew it was a serious injury. And what should have been a celebration of a comfortable win quickly turned into something of a funeral.
The wind that was pushing the Magic’s sails through the seeding round suddenly ceased. The team never really recovered from that moment. There was a bit of shell shock of regaining and losing Isaac all in about a week.
And it clearly will have a big impact on 2021 as the Magic will play the season without their promising young forward.