3 Playoff Preview matchups for the Orlando Magic to circle on the calendar

The Orlando Magic are just more than a month away from making their first playoff appearance in four years. As they push through the last 20-plus games of the season, here are three matchups against fellow Eastern Conference playoff teams that provide a litmus test for the Magic's ceiling this summer.
New York Knicks v Orlando Magic
New York Knicks v Orlando Magic / Rich Storry/GettyImages
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Playoff Preview matchups to circle on the calendar

March 8th - Orlando Magic at New York Knicks

The playoff lookahead starts next weekend once the team gets out of this stretch of seven games against teams with losing records. the Orlando Magic have taken care of its business in that run. But things get serious on Friday.

A March 8 matchup in New York versus the New York Knicks will be a potential first-round matchup if games fall the right way. As of March 3, the Orlando Magic are sitting at the 6-seed but tied with the Philadelphia 76ers at 5 (Philadelphia owns the tiebreaker with a 2-0 head-to-head advantage this season).

The Knicks sit at 4, so a 4-5 matchup in the opening round could shake out that way. Out of all potential first-round matchups, New York is the most favorable of the bunch. With three wins in three opportunities this regular season, the Magic have an opportunity to complete a playoff-esque 4-0 sweep next week.

Granted, the Magic have never played the Knicks at full strength. That is part of the story too. But Orlando has had New York's number this season.

The Magic have won those three games in many different ways.

Their Dec. 29 matchup was a restricted area clash where both teams went a combined 13 for 63 from three. Knicks forward Julius Randle went for 38 points (32 coming inside the arc to go with six points off free throws). Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, though, went for a combined 61 points (only 15 of those coming from deep) to get the win.

Their next win was an all-out team win with four players in double figures -- including a 17-point performance off the bench from a fresh-off-injury Wendell Carter.

The Magic then took care of business against an injured Knicks team before the All-Star Break.

Orlando has yet to play New York with Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson and OG Anunoby all available. And it does not appear Randle or Anunoby will return in time for Friday's showdown.

Heading into next week, this matchup will show the signs of a favorable playoff matchup. Orlando's lengthy wings, headlined by Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, and Jonathan Isaac have been huge in stifling New York's primary options.

While both Randle and Jalen Brunson have 30-point performances against Orlando this season, they haven't had any resemblance of a key third scorer that separates them from this Magic team.

The national media has been high on New York as a threat to the Eastern Conference's top teams, but Orlando's length and well-rounded defense has given New York problems. Look for next week's matchup as the final litmus test for a potential first-round matchup.