Orlando Magic’s maturity and belief on display during win streak

The Orlando Magic's five-game win streak has seen the team come together and believe. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic's five-game win streak has seen the team come together and believe. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

Like so many things in building a winning streak, it is in the little things and little details that tip the scales in their favor.

The Orlando Magic can point to a lot of plays for why they were able to upend the Boston Celtics on Friday night in TD Garden. They can point to the stellar first quarter from Paolo Banchero that helped them erase the early deficit or Moe Wagner’s constant drumbeat of energy or Cole Anthony’s energy and scoring punch off the bench.

The focus, as always, seems to go to “winning time” in the fourth quarter. When the trailing team feels the desperation and throws everything at it and the leading team needs the poise and control to handle that final onslaught.

It is one thing to answer and beat back runs during the course of the game. But the end of games are different. This is where things change. This is where a young team like this Magic team will tend to struggle. It is where they have struggled throughout this season.

If there is a clear sign that things have changed then during this five-game win streak, it is how the team handled these late-game moments.

The Orlando Magic’s win streak has shown the team’s maturity and growth in many ways. But most especially in their poise and belief of what they can build.

The change in the Magic can be seen in how Markelle Fultz tracked down an offensive rebound from across the court, swooping in to save a possession, before resetting himself and taking Malcolm Brogdon off the dribble to hit his comfortable-looking elbow shot.

This is poise. This is composure. This is what a winning team does.

With a decent lead and knowing that final push is coming, these are the kinds of plays that separate wins from losses. The kinds of plays the Magic were not digging out earlier in the year.

The kind of plays this team now has the confidence, poise and belief to make. The fact the team is doing this routinely is how the team has built the franchise’s first five-game win streak since the 2020 season (the last time the team made the playoffs).

And the surest sign of this team’s rebuild moving in the right direction.

This is not something that just pops up. It takes confidence and belief. The teams that struggle do not have this confidence. They face these repeated runs from quality teams and wilt.

That is what the Celtics seemed to expect the Magic to do. Orlando built its lead to 19 early in the third quarter before Boston burned off a 15-4 run to cut the deficit back to eight. The Celtics got it to seven to end the third quarter but would get no closer.

The Magic answered them every time. It was never anything big, although the Magic stretched the lead to 14 in the fourth quarter, but it was always enough to keep them at an arm’s length.

As Banchero put it, this was the game for the Magic that they believed confirmed what they built on the home court. The game that proved the win streak was not a fluke.

"“We see what we’ve been doing and the results we’re getting from it,” Banchero said after Friday’s win. “Obviously, we know we’re not going to go on a 70-game win streak. We have to be able to when we do take that loss, we have to be able to do the same thing we have been doing which is locking in on the game plan, giving 100 percent effort and having a great attitude and sticking to the simple stuff.”"

The Magic did many of the things they did to win Friday’s game in previous wins over the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors. Even in that first win over the Raptors when the team gave up the lead, they showed the same kind of poise to close it out, winning on an offensive rebound putback from Franz Wagner.

Several Magic players spoke about it after the wins over the Raptors and Hawks, especially. The team is playing with a bit of swagger. Certainly the swagger of belief.

As Moe Wagner said when the Orlando Magic broke their nine-game losing streak against the LA Clippers and repeated after Friday’s win, the team needed the win to feel the reward for the good work they are doing. Now that they have seen that good work result in wins, the effects seem to have multiplied.

This five-game win streak has only seen the team get more confidence and grow that belief more and more.

They erased a 17-point deficit to win in overtime over the Clippers with some shaky moments late before they closed it out. They were shaky again late as the Toronto Raptors rallied to take the lead late before Franz Wagner scored the winner for a second straight win. Then in the second matchup, the Magic took a lead and kept Toronto at bay for a relatively easy win.

That all led to the 50-point first quarter in the win over the Atlanta Hawks. And while Atlanta cut the deficit from 29 to as little as eight points, Orlando was never really threatened.

That is what happened again in Boston. The team continues to have the confidence to stay with the game plan even when things are falling apart. More often than not now, the Magic are finding their groove again and answering back.

"“Our guys are doing a great job of understanding and believing, knowing how we can play,” coach Jamahl Mosley said after Friday’s game. “You start down 4-14. They didn’t blink. They just came out, stayed the course and understand the poise they have to have within these games in a great environment to play in. I’m proud of these guys and the way they are playing for one another by committee.”"

This is not how the team was responding earlier in the season when they dropped close games like this one or allowed comfortable leads to become tight losses.

Everything seems to be on point. The team is sharper defensively and more efficient offensively. When something seems to be going wrong, the team is able to gather itself and pull itself together to answer back.

As Mosley repeatedly tells his team, this game is a game of runs. As cliche as it sounds, that is true. And the good teams know how to answer those runs.

That is increasingly how you have to describe this Magic team.

The team will not win forever of course. There is more adversity to come. But the win streak has better prepared the Magic for what is to come.

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More importantly, now they have proof of what they can do. That will make it much easier to duplicate.