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

April 7 - Orlando Magic vs. Chicago Bulls

Write off these Chicago Bulls all you want, but they are in the Play-In at this point in the season.

At the ninth seed and four games above the 11th-seeded Brooklyn Nets, the Chicago Bulls should end up as at least the 10th seed come playoff time. That opens the door for a playoff matchup with the Orlando Magic.

No, this is not as exciting as the previous two matchups. But the idea needs to be thrown around that the Magic stumble to end the season. With three straight matchups against the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks (two teams that the Orlando Magic have a combined 1-3 record against this year) and a jumbled mess from the 4-8 seeds, Orlando could certainly find itself all the way at the back of that pack and playing in the Play-In Tournament.

There is a lot to sort out in the last 20-plus games.

That, coupled with a tough 7-8 Play-In matchup, could result in a winner-takes-the-8-seed game in Orlando with Chicago.

There is a solid gap between these two teams. The Magic have gone an undefeated 3-0 against the Bulls this year. But every one of those games came down to the final possession of regulation.

An early season back-to-back saw Orlando escape 96-94 on a Paolo Banchero game-winner and 103-97 on a Franz Wagner game-winner to start their nine-game win streak.

Orlando had by far its best defensive performance of season in both, holding Chicago to 33 first-half points in both games -- the only team to hold an opponent to 35 points or less multiple teams this season.

Late runs in both games pulled Chicago back to single digits -- an element of Orlando's second-half offense that has been an issue throughout the season. The Magic needed a game-winner by Banchero with 1.1 seconds to go to escape.

They needed overtime to defeat the Bulls in February. This is not an easy opponent for a single-elimination game.

Overall, Orlando has the matchups to notch a playoff win against the Bulls if it comes down to it.

Jalen Suggs plays big enough on defense to limit Coby White's Most Improved Player campaign this season (19.3/5.3/4.8 splits for the 24-year-old). Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Jonathan Isaac should have no issues with the DeMar DeRozan/Andre Drummond/Nikola Vucevic frontcourt trio, either, despite the size advantage for Chicago.

This is a regular season matchup in April that Orlando needs to pull away for a statement win. Similar to the Orlando Magic's 108-81 win against the Brooklyn Nets last week, the Chicago Bulls should be a team Orlando can handle.

Next. Playoff push starts with taking care of business. Magic's playoff push starts with taking care of their business. dark

Alongside the Charlotte Hornets, Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies matchups left on the schedule, the Chicago Bulls are a team the Orlando Magic have no business losing to at this point in the season and should use it as a stepping stone to prove themselves as a top-six team in the league.