The Orlando Magic (2-0) are feeling themselves right now.
The young team has beaten two likely bottom-feeder teams in the Western Conference and took care of their business to do so. That is certainly a sign of growth for a young team.
Now the real challenge comes. The Magic will take on two of the better teams in the Western Conference tonight and tomorrow and two teams that not only made the playoffs last year but have championship aspirations this year.
The Orlando Magic will play against the Los Angeles Lakers at CRYPTO.com arena at 10:30 p.m. and will follow that game with a back-to-back against the LA Clippers on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m.
Facing such daunting opponents, the Magic will get a chance to truly measure themselves.
But on a basic level the question is simple: Can the Magic stay perfect in Los Angeles?
That is the question that no one knows the answer to at this present time.
The Orlando Magic started off the season undefeated after wins against the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers. But they will now take their unblemished record into Los Angeles for two games against quality opponents.
The Magic shocked the world and looked very impressive against the Rockets in their season opener, beating the Rockets by 30 points. The national media would have had a field day reporting any other contending team in the Eastern Conference (Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat or Philadelphia 76ers) if they would have blown out a Western Conference team like that.
The Magic are putting the league on notice.
Orlando has started this road trip exactly like the team wanted. The team will begin to get national media coverage if the team can pull off these two wins in Los Angeles. More importantly than that, it will give the team continued confidence to get through a difficult early part of the schedule and bank up wins against quality opponents in the team’s pursuit of the postseason.
It will not be easy though.
The Los Angeles Lakers (1-2) are coming off of an overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings and will fight hard for their second win of the year at home. In the overtime loss to the Kings, LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 57 points, 31 rebounds and 10 assists.
Their status for the game is uncertain with the Lakers on a back to back and coming off an overtime road game. That would certainly dampen the potential importance of Monday’s game.
The Lakers want to stay unbeaten at home so the Magic will have to take this win regardless of who plays.
The Magic cannot afford to start off slow or come out there turning the ball over or taking ill-advised shots at the beginning of the shot clock. This young team has an opportunity to grow during this stretch of games in Los Angeles.
The Magic are well aware of the opponents they are facing tonight and tomorrow night. As a matter of fact the Lakers have beaten the Magic in the last five matchups. That stat alone should be enough motivation for the players from Orlando to come out playing their best brand of basketball. It will take everyone to pull off a road-win against a hungry Lakers squad.
On the flip side, the Magic have had their way with the Clippers recently.
The last two times the Magic faced the Clippers, they came out victorious. Orlando beat LA 116-111 in overtime in December to snap a nine-game losing streak and kickstart the team’s six-game win streak that turned the season around. Orlando won again in March, beating the Clippers 113-108.
But the LA Clippers look to be rolling this year as they just beat the San Antonio Spurs by 40 points. The Clippers feature one of the top defenses in the league through the early part of the season. We will see if the Magic can make it three wins in a row on Tuesday night.
This will be a big challenge for the Magic.
So what would it mean if the Magic stay perfect in Los Angeles?
It means that this franchise has finally turned the corner and can now be mentioned with the teams who are penciled in for Playoff spots. It would put the team in a higher level than we have seen so far. It would legitimize their start.
There are only three teams currently undefeated in the Eastern Conference and the young pups from Central Florida are one of them — the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers are the others. If they stay perfect in Los Angeles they could possibly be the top team in the East by Wednesday. These young players should be super motivated to continue their winning streak.
The Magic have to keep applying the winning formula in order to win these two games in Los Angeles. If they play aggressively on both sides of the ball and get great production from the bench it will put the Magic in a position to come out with the victory.