3 New Expectations for the Orlando Magic after 20 games
1. Secure a top six seed
The last time the Orlando Magic made it into the playoffs the Play-In Tournament was not in existence. It was a germ of an idea created for the unique circumstance of the bubble. The Orlando Magic had enough distance as the 8-seed from the Washington Wizards to avoid playing that extra game.
As you can imagine the organization looked very different. The only remaining holdovers from the Magic bubble team are Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz. In that season the Magic finished 33-40 and lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games.
Usually, the bottom of the Eastern Conference is filled with teams hovering around .500. But the sixth seed is a team with more organizational direction and is always above the 41-41 mark. Last season, the sixth seed was the Brooklyn Nets who held a record of 45-37. That record seems to be an honest marker as the Chicago Bulls were the sixth seed with a 46-36 record the year prior.
To hit that goal the Magic would simply need to go .500 the rest of the way or just one win better than that.
For the Orlando Magic, that is doable, especially with the Washington Wizards (two games remaining) and Charlotte Hornets (three games remaining) being in the same division. And the Orlando Magic had an extra game against the Detroit Pistons added to their schedule after the In-Season Tournament's group play phase was predicted (and three more games in addition to that).
Schedule-wise, Orlando has the 24th easiest schedule remaining based on opponent win percentage. It is probably too early to put much stock into that.
But the Orlando Magic have already beaten elite teams like the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics this season. And they have a notably easier schedule coming after the All-Star Break, including an eight-game homestand.
There are certainly challenges ahead. But Orlando has already put itself in a very good spot to hold onto a top-6 spot in the standings. The Orlando Magic already have a three-game lead on the Miami Heat to secure that guaranteed trip to a Playoff series.
And considering the 29-28 run the Magic made after their horrid start in the first 25 games last season, they should be able to stay on track barring injury.