2023 Orlando Magic Season Review What Went Right: Protecting Amway Center

Mar 5, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; A view of the crowd from above during the game between the Orlando Magic and the Portland Trail Blazers at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; A view of the crowd from above during the game between the Orlando Magic and the Portland Trail Blazers at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

There are few better barometers in the NBA than a team’s record on their home court. And the Orlando Magic took another step forward this season in that category.

It seems a little too obvious, but the best teams in the league usually have a great record at home.

This season the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, owned a conference-leading 32-9 record at home. In the Western Conference, the Memphis Grizzlies were a league-best 35-6 at home followed by the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors. (Just a quick aside, the Warriors went 33-8 at home and 11-30 on the road. Insane.)

This is usually a tell-tale sign for young teams too. Young teams tend to struggle a ton on the road but net their biggest wins and play with their best energy at home.

For a young Orlando Magic team, learning to protect the Amway Center was one of the keys to the team’s success in the 2023 season.

The Orlando Magic helped establish a true home-court advantage, giving the young team a base to grow and a chance to improve and grow their fan base.

When you win more games, you are bound to have a better record at home, but looking a little deeper into these league-leading teams provides context to a better picture.

The Bucks and Celtics both had winning records on the road, but were each had more than 15 losses. We mentioned the Warriors already having a poor road record, but so did the Nuggets and Grizzlies.

Simply put, contenders protect their home court. This has been the case throughout NBA history and it is still the case today.

We are also seeing this directing swing playoff series for the Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks. Homecourt advantage has to mean something.

I do not know how many extra points the Chase Center or Madison Square Garden are worth, but it is easy to tell just by watching.

The same can be said of the Amway Center and the Orlando Magic this season.

I am not saying the Amway currently belongs in the conversation as some of the great arena environments in the NBA — NBA players in a poll with The Athletic ranked the Amway Center as one of the worst environments this season still — but when these Magic are running and defending there is a significant buzz. And the Magic still had strong attendance — their best in many ways since Dwight Howard left.

You can track this trend all the way back to the end of last season. Despite being out of the playoff hunt early in 2022, the Magic continued to play with purpose and the fans took notice.

Throughout last offseason, we talked about the importance of protecting home court and the real change will be noticed at home.

Opening up against the Boston Celtics, the fans were hyped to see Paolo Banchero’s debut in a Magic uniform and the team competed shot for shot with the defending conference champs.

There was a real ebb and flow to the overall season, but there was always a reason for Magic fans be to excited.

It started with Paolo Banchero. But eventually, Bol Bol was getting the biggest cheers as he went on his early season tear. Then Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony would provide the spark of the bench. And by the end of the season, Markelle Fultz would cause an eruption or two per game.

During the season much was said about establishing a culture and most importantly, Magic fans got involved themselves. The players like each other and most of all Orlando likes these players.

Now, it is also important to note the Magic playing well at home is not just about the vibes and the feeling of being there in person. There are numbers to back this up.

The Magic finished the season 20-21 at home, but had a winning record before dropping their last two to the Cleveland Cavaliers as players were resting to end the season. The best way to say it is the Magic had a winning record at home in games they were trying to win.

In the previous two years, the Orlando Magic were 12-29 and 13-23 at home. You have to go back to the shortened 2020 season to see the team with a winning record at Amway Center.

Related Story. 10 losses the Orlando Magic regret from 2023 season. light

Looking past the win-loss columns, the Magic averaged 114.3 points per game at home, almost six points more than their average on the road. They shot three percentage points higher from the field at home and a full 4% higher from three.

They had just a -0.4 net rating at Amway Center compared to the not-so-great -4.7 net rating on the road.

The Magic were a good basketball team at home but struggled to compete away from the Amway Center.

This is not just about sleeping in your own bed or the comforts of your own court – I do believe the crowd was able to sway many of these games.

Many teams around the league have gotten accustomed to seeing their fans pack the Amway Center. I will be the first to admit that in many games you would see more Golden State Warriors or Los Angeles Lakers jerseys in the crowd than Orlando Magic ones.

But that is quickly starting to change.

Orlando is the vacation capital of the U.S. and a young city full of people moving in from other areas, so there will always be opposing fans. But the loyal locals are getting louder and louder and making their presence known.

The Amway Center crowd battled back and forth with New York Knicks fans and Miami Heat fans toward the end of the season. Fans showed up in surprising droves to see the Orlando Magic play the Dallas Mavericks for a 5:30 p.m. weekday tip the day before a hurricane hit Central Florida.

The Orlando Magic sold out a late-March game against the lowly Detroit Pistons even with the Play-In dreams slipping away.

The front office knows this is what happens when you establish a culture and have young, exciting players on the court.

Next. What Went Right: Jamahl Mosley keeps the big picture in focus. dark

The environment at Amway Center was one of the many positives coming out of this season and will be one of the early benchmarks at the start of what looks to be a pivotal 2024 season.