The Orlando Magic need a win on the road tomorrow night against the Utah Jazz.
It is probably too far to call it a must-win victory. But after two dispiriting losses that exposed some major offensive flaws, the Magic need a confidence boost. They need to keep their heads above water before they head home and get a chance to reset themselves.
It would mean so much for the Magic to get a win on the road in Utah, not only for the sanity of this roster, not only to put the team back on the winning side, but to put this particular team in a position that it has never been in before.
A win against the Jazz will prove this team can bounce back on the road against a rebuilding team. This would give the players a lot of confidence when they get back home to play against the Los Angeles Lakers and a chance to show some growth from the game Monday.
The Orlando Magic have lost their last two games against the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers, but will need to beat the Utah Jazz to become a .500 road team and keep building confidence.
A win against Utah also proves this Orlando squad can beat the teams they are supposed to beat.
There is no shame in losing to LeBron James and Anthony Davis on one night and on the next night losing to Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook. Those five players have 60 NBA All-Star appearances combined. The Magic’s players have 0 NBA All-Star appearances. So we have to keep these loses in a realistic perspective.
It is disappointing, yes. But they are still just two games. The Magic have to work to restore some confidence and keep establishing who this team is and can be. That is what the Magic lost some in the losses in Los Angeles.
The Orlando Magic’s first two wins of the year were against rebuilding teams in the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers. But they came without the context of coming off of a loss. Those wins were off the vibes of a strong offseason and without the setbacks of the season.
The team had nothing to bounce back from during the first and second games of the year. Now they must bounce back from a close loss on Monday to the Lakers and a double-digit loss to the Clippers on Tuesday night.
Every game on the schedule will be some sort of challenge for this young, budding Magic squad.
The next game is against a team boasting a young star in Lauri Markkanen and the young Jazz finished 12th in their conference at the end of the year. Although Utah missed the postseason, they still have some good players on their roster.
The Jazz have struggled some out of the gate at 1-3, their lone win a late game victory over the Clippers. Utah is last in the league in defensive rating at 119.8 points allowed per 100 possessions and 14th in offensive rating at 109.2 points per 100 possessions. The Utah Jazz will get a chance to fix this Wednesday night at home against the Memphis Grizzlies.
After facing the Clippers though, the top defense in the league now after Tuesday’s win over the Magic, the Jazz will give the Magic a little more of a margin for error. Perhaps the team needs that to get themselves right.
While there has been some online panic about the Magic, they are still very much on track to improve.
For context, last year the Magic started off the season 0-5, their first win of the year came against the Charlotte Hornets. By that time the Magic had already dug themselves into a hole too deep to get back in front of the standings and would have to grind out the remainder of the year.
This year they begin the year 2-2 with one road game left before the team heads back to Florida to take on Lakers once again.
Orlando is second in the league in defensive rating even after a relatively poor defensive game Tuesday night at 103.0 points allowed per 100 possessions. Even the Magic’s offense sits at 16th in the league for the early season at 107.1 points per 100 possessions, certainly buoyed still by the outlier of the opening night win.
The Magic have plenty of areas to improve but the team is still finding itself and has room to grow. An opportunity the Magic need to take advantage of to close this road trip.
Just last year the Orlando Magic lost their first five road games against the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Orlando Magic did not win a game on the road until Nov. 18 when they slid by the Chicago Bulls 108-107 on a buzzer-beating shot by Jalen Suggs.
So the Magic have already improved from last year.
A win against the Jazz solidifies the franchise’s progression and where it is going in the near future. It would mean the Magic are better than the bottom feeder teams in the NBA now, and that they are in the middle of the pack. Orlando is just trying to keep pace with the early postseason race through a difficult start to the season.
A win also shows the Magic can split a road trip, instead of losing all of the games on the road like at some points in the 2023 year. It would show the Magic can be one of the middle of the pack type of team, that is a player or two from serious contention.
This is what winning teams do. And Orlando knows a 2-2 road trip would be a big success regardless of how it came about. Especially facing a four-game homestand when they return (OK, three-game homestand with a trip to Mexico City for a home game in the middle).
The Magic need this win to prove to themselves that they are capable of getting their winning percentage back above .500. And to also prove to the world that they are no longer a bottom-feeder type of team in 2024.