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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3 X-Factors for the Orlando Magic's Playoff Chase

Cole Anthony

Thursday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers was a great showing and a reminder of how important the Orlando Magic's bench is to their success.

The Magic are fourth in the league in bench scoring. Their ability to get production off the bench has been essential to their success. And any number of bench players could be major X-factors for the team moving forward.

Moe Wagner was the hero Thursday night with his 22 points. He is dominant with his scoring around the basket and never does more than what is asked of him. He is always available around the basket.

Joe Ingles is big for his shooting and passing. With Markelle Fultz in and out of the lineup, Anthony Black becomes more intriguing with his defense and improving jumper to help fill those minutes.

No one though could flip the team and give them the spark off the bench to dominate the second and fourth quarters and stake the Magic the lead like Cole Anthony. Anthony's struggles through the middle of the season were a big drain on the team and it left them trying to fill things in.

It is no coincidence the Magic have played better when Anthony plays better.

In the first 20 games of the season, Anthony averaged 15.2 points per game and shot 37.2 percent from three. The Magic were 14-6 after those games. Anthony was in the running for Sixth Man of the Year.

In December and January, Anthony averaged 10.7 points per game and shot 28.3 percent from three. There were some really rough moments in January when the Magic were really struggling.

In the Magic's last 11 games, Anthony is averaging only 8.3 points per game, but he is back to shooting 38.9 percent from three. That is a good sign that things are starting to pick up.

If Anthony is feeling healthier, that could mean they have more faith and trust to increase his minutes load and get him back to those early season numbers.

Orlando probably does not need him back at 15 points per game again. But the team needs him to be efficient, especially with his mid-range game to make the most of his minutes.

Getting this impact back from Anthony could be truly transformative. The Magic being able to steal minutes of rest for their main stars because other players can carry the creation and scoring load will be a huge boost for the playoffs.

Anthony will be an important player for the Magic in their playoff push for this reason. He could truly tip the team over the top in a playoff game and in a playoff series because nobody expects such a dynamic scorer off the bench.

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Seeing him start to get revved up at this point is a good sign for the Magic.