5 little improvements that will determine the Orlando Magic’s season
The Back-to-Back Problem
The answer for the Orlando Magic to make the postseason is a pretty simple one: Win more games.
They won 34 games last season and needed to hit 40 to reach the Play-In Tournament. They are aiming to get six more wins somewhere. And so the easiest place to start in trying to figure out how the Magic reach the postseason is to figure out the areas the team did not get enough wins and figure out how to get more wins.
The place to start then is one area the Magic greatly struggled last year. They were a terrible team in back-to-back situations. It was something that became nearly comical throughout the season.
Orlando finished the season with just one win on the second night of back-to-backs, going 1-12 with zero days of rest. That lone win was the win over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center in January. A game that saw the Magic blow multiple leads with Damian Lillard missing a pair of 3-pointers at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.
Orlando had a horrid 120.8 defensive rating on the second night of back-to-backs. For a team that is so proud defensively, seeing the team give up more than seven points per 100 possessions than its season average without any days of rest was a true turning point for the season.
Even if the team won three more games — going 4-9 instead of 1-12 — that could have been enough to give them momentum to stay in the game, so to speak.
It is hard for the Magic to do much worse than this, of course. But it is essential the team improve in this area.
Orlando will play a league-high 15 back-to-backs this season. The Magic will have to play a lot of games without any rest. Learning how to manage this will be one of the team’s biggest challenges.
There are three home-home back-to-backs and a few back-to-backs that are clear schedule losses — look at Dec. 1 and 2 for the always infamous Orlando-to-Brooklyn back-to-back or April 9 and 10 for an insane Houston-to-Milwaukee back-to-back.
Nobody is expecting the Orlando Magic to win the majority of their games with zero rest. They just need to be better. And being even a little better at taking some of these games on the second night of back-to-backs will help the team take an important next step in maturity.