Ranking every Orlando Magic Playoff series
4. 1995 Eastern Conference Finals: Defeated Indiana Pacers, 4-3
The Orlando Magic were the No. 1 seed in the 1995 Eastern Conference Playoffs, but everyone was still going to count them out. Even after defeating Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, everyone was waiting for their inexperience to catch up to them. They were waiting for the veteran teams to put them to bed.
The Indiana Pacers had paid their dues. They lost to the New York Knicks in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals after scoring an upset themselves in taking down the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks. They climbed the ladder and paid their dues.
This Magic team had not. As Reggie Miller succinctly puts it at the end of the Winning Time documentary about the Pacers climbing over the Knicks in the 1995 Playoffs, “It would have been better if it were the conference finals.”
The Magic were their own challenge for sure. And Orlando had to go through its own adversity — technology was not advanced at us to ever truly know for sure if Rik Smits’ Memorial Day game-winner in Game 4 was really good or not.
But this was a series where everyone held serve. And facing their first-ever Game 7, the Magic dominated.
Orlando punched its ticket to its first NBA Finals with a 105-81 victory at the Orlando Arena that started the party for the young franchise. There was no denying the Magic anymore despite their age. Shaquille O’Neal (27.3 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game in the series) and Anfernee Hardaway (19.6 points per game and 7.3 assists per game) were no longer deniable.
It really felt like anything was possible for this young team. And indeed it felt so.
There were very few moments in Magic history that felt this high.
But even more than this was how the Magic withstood the Pacers. Every game in this series until the Pacers’ Game 6 win in Indianapolis was close. The Magic had to battle back and grind out a victory in the series. This was veteran stuff and a moment and series Magic fans will never forget.