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 10 - Orlando Magic vs Indiana Pacers


A Western Conference/bottom-feeder flurry to end the season does not leave a ton of potential postseason previews. But two days after that matchup with the New York Knicks comes another potential matchup. This time a possible Play-In matchup of two up-and-coming teams.

Although the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers sit sixth and seventh in the Eastern Conference (not a Play-In matchup), a late slip-up by one or both teams could result in a 7-8 matchup just more than a month from this regular-season meeting.

For as good of an offensive team as the Pacers are (No. 1 in scoring and No. 2 in offensive rating), the Magic have seemed to figure it out in two regular season games.

Orlando had their fifth-highest scoring game back in November and held All-Star Tyrese Haliburton to just 12 points (Jordan Nwora led the Pacers in scoring). Orlando's starting lineup combined for a wild +89 (and +95 after taking out rookie Anthony Black's -6 since he played late in the game when Indiana made a push to close the margin).

In game two the next month, Paolo Banchero went for 34 points to surge past Indiana in arguably Tyrese Haliburton's hottest stretch of the year (he went for 29 and 11 assists).

A first-half barrage resulting in 73 first-half points from Orlando was mostly due to using the team's most consistent offensive approach: getting to the rim and drawing fouls. Indiana committed 30 fouls leading to 33 points off free throws (12 of those from Banchero).

March 10 will prove to be a solid test for Orlando to determine its standing within the tiers of playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference.

They have teetered between the Indiana Pacers/New York Knicks/Miami Heat/Philadelphia 76ers group more this season than below that (although the Sixers with Joel Embiid in the lineup moves them up a tier).

This matchup for Orlando will prove they belong in the top six conversations and a true competitor get out of the first round.