The Orlando Magic’s hopes to reach the postseason rest in their final 22 games.
Orlando currently sits 13th in the Eastern Conference but is only 3.5 games behind the Washington Wizards for the final play-in spot. It is a tall hill to climb, but one they are capable of scaling.
The Orlando Magic have gotten off to a good start after the All-Star Break with a 108-106 win over the Detroit Pistons.
The final 22 games will feature plenty of important matchups and opportunities for the team to make this push. According to Tankathon, the Magic have the 13th-most difficult schedule remaining this season (it was 17th before the Magic put their first game remaining against the Pistons behind them).
Moving forward there is a set of games that are either considered must-wins which would contain games the Magic should win or games in which Orlando plays in front of them that directly affect the standings.
The Orlando Magic’s schedule sets up for them to make a postseason push if they can take advantage of key games early and build confidence heading into the rest of the season.
There are six games of the 22 remaining games Orlando will play either against bad teams or teams that are right in front of them in the standings.
Of those six games, the Orlando Magic play the 12th-seeded Indiana Pacers once (Saturday’s game presents an opportunity for the Magic to pass the Pacers in the standings, an important step in the postseason chase); the 14th-seeded Charlotte Hornets once (March 3 in Charlotte); the 14th-seeded San Antonio Spurs once (March 14 to start a West Coast road trip); the 10th-seeded Washington Wizards twice (March 21 in Orlando and March 31 in Washington, D.C.); and the last-place Detroit Pistons once more (April 2 to start the team’s final three-game homestand).
These games will likely be key to the final push for the play-in tournament. Losses against bad teams at this stage of the season are going to be backbreakers. Then wins against the teams contending will either make up ground quickly or will bury the team for the rest of the season.
There is another set of seven games that are against better teams but Orlando will still have to find a way to win some of these games.
The New Orleans Pelicans without Zion Williamson (9-11 without him) starts off that set of games on Monday to open a three-game road trip next week.
The Magic play the Portland Trail Blazers in this stretch too on March 5, kicking off a four-game homestand all against postseason-contending teams. The Blazers are also playing for their playoff lives but made moves at the deadline that seemingly were not geared toward winning and climbing the standings.
This will be a tough game in which both teams are fighting for the play-in-tournament respective spots.
The Utah Jazz are also in this stretch on March 9. Utah has a 30-31 record after starting the season with a hot start. It is going to be another game against a team who is fighting for a play-in spot led by All-Star Lauri Markkanen.
This stretch of games is full of teams that are fighting for the final playoff spots, which include a much improved Los Angles Lakers (March 19 in Los Angeles), along with a game against the New York Knicks (March 23 in Orlando).
Then to end this set of games the Magic have two games against the Brooklyn Nets (March 26 in Orlando and April 7 as the second night of a back-to-back to start the final road trip of the season).
The Brooklyn Nets have had a roster turnover and will likely have trouble finishing the season as they have lost their last game by 44 points to the Chicago Bulls. But Brooklyn is still very much in position to make the postseason, sitting 7.5 games clear of missing the Play-In Tournament.
Then the final set of games will be against teams that are going to be against good and proven teams. This set will contain two against the Milwaukee Bucks (March 1 in Milwaukee and March 7 in Orlando), two against the Miami Heat (March 11 in Orlando and the season finale on April 9 in Miami), Phoenix Suns (March 16 in Phoenix), LA Clippers (March 18) and a pair of home games against the Cleveland Cavaliers (April 4 and 6 as the final two games at Amway Center this season).
These games are going to be tough but if the Magic want to reach the postseason, Orlando will have to win games that they are not “supposed to.”
The Magic have little to no margin for error during this final 22-game stretch. The final play-in spot will likely require 38-40 wins which means the Magic will likely require 13-15 wins during this final run.
It will not be easy, but it is possible. There are wins out there and the Magic are 20-15 in their last 35 games, putting the team on a pretty solid pace if they can maintain it.
There were games throughout the season Orlando might end up kicking themselves for. But now is the time to make up for those games. Now it is the time to win and show the league that this Magic team is different and show that they are ready to level up.