1 advantage the Orlando Magic have over every Southeast Division team
Miami Heat: Hunger
The Miami Heat are the kings of the division. There is no denying it.
They are the only team realistically competing for a title among the Southeast Division teams. And even in a down year for the conference, the Heat seem to be the class of the division.
There are some holes in their veneer — they did finish as the 7-seed last year and lost the 7/8 Play-In Game to the Atlanta Hawks — but this is still the Heat. They just continually find ways to win.
Everyone in the division is trying to get to their level. And even when you think you have the Heat down for the count, they are excellent late in games and rally to win.
Orlando saw that on three occasions last year — the last game saw both teams play mostly bench players. The Magic had a fourth-quarter lead in their first matchup in Miami only for the Heat to dominate the end of the game. They had a lead again in their first meeting in Orlando, only for Miami to rally to force overtime and beat a shell-shocked Orlando team in overtime.
The third game of the series though was one of the most important of the young Magic’s season. Miami again erased a late deficit to force overtime. But the Magic did not let history repeat itself. They rallied to win the game in overtime.
It was one of the hallmark wins for the Magic. Jalen Suggs even noted it as a special victory during the Magic’s 35th-anniversary tip-off Friday. That win resonated with them.
The Heat are the standard for the division. And so young teams looking to prove themselves will very much want to measure themselves against them.
Orlando is constantly looking to prove itself against a team like Miami. Not to mention the inherent battle that has existed between the Magic and Heat franchises since the Magic’s founding or the amount of visiting fans that fill the Amway Center for these games.
These games always have a charged atmosphere. And while the Heat may not think much about the Magic, the Magic certainly view these games as critical to their growth and development.
If there is one thing Orlando has over Miami then, it is the hunger to prove itself as a team and as a future contender. The Magic will have four opportunities to show the Heat — and the league — what they are about. And these games will feel very good if the Magic can get them.
Orlando is going to spend this season trying to prove itself as a future contender. Winning a few marquee matchups will go a long way to proving the team belongs.
Defeating the Heat comes with some added relish.