3 X-Factors to the Orlando Magic's playoff chase

The Orlando Magic know what they will get from their starters most nights. The difference for the team in their hunt for the Playoffs will be who else steps up on a nightly basis.

Jalen Suggs has shown hints of being the third scorer the Orlando Magic need. He could be an X-factor for the team in their playoff push.
Jalen Suggs has shown hints of being the third scorer the Orlando Magic need. He could be an X-factor for the team in their playoff push. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
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The Orlando Magic opened their schedule after the All-Star Break with a momentous 116-109 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The defense and effort looked sharp and were the signs of a team that seemed fully engaged and focused on the upcoming playoff chase.

The team seems fully locked in with a schedule that should be set up for them to make a push -- their next seven games are against teams with losing records. Orlando is about to make a move in the standings. Or, at least, the team should.

The Magic, as any team would, will go as far as their stars will take them. Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner are critical players for the team. And with both players averaging more than 20.0 points per game -- the first time a pair of Magic players have hit that mark since Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee Hardaway in 1996 -- they know what they are going to get from those players almost every night.

Both Banchero and Wagner are consistent options for the team. And while the Magic do not yet know how they will respond to the playoff pressure, the Magic know they will need secondary players to step up and support them. They know they need players to make their lives easier.

Thursday's win over the Cavaliers was a major statement then. Both Banchero and Wagner struggled and did not put up their normal scoring output. It was only the ninth time this season that both players failed to hit 20 points. The Magic have still won their fair share of games without it.

But it took a big performance from the Magic's bench to get the win Thursday. Orlando had 63 points off the bench and got a big showing from Moe Wagner (22 points) and Cole Anthony (13 points). The Magic put their by-committee approach to good practice.

Orlando can fill in and form around whatever the game calls for. That has helped them adapt throughout the regular season. But the team will need to have roles more clearly defined and they will need to find someone to give scoring support for Banchero and Wagner.

The Magic are always working at a deficit offensively anyway. For them to succeed, they are going to need an offensive X-factor to tip things over the top for them. They are going to need some players to be more consistent offensively.

There is still a lot for the Magic to accomplish this season. They are within striking distance of climbing the standings and avoiding the Play-In -- they trail the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks by just four games if they want to get ambitious for the end of the season. The Magic have a lot to play for.

And they will need to find a consistent scoring option to get them over the top. They will need that to get them by in the Playoffs too.

It is not Banchero and Wagner who will determine the direction the team goes the rest of the season. It will be the growth and appearance of these supporting players.

Orlando needs at least one more player to step up consistently or one player to step up each night to get the team over the hump.