5 questions for fourth quarter of the Orlando Magic's 2024 Season

This season the Orlando Magic solidified the foundation of their rebuild. They end the third quarter of the season firmly in the Eastern Conference playoff race. There are still a lot of questions about this team that will be answered in the fourth quarter.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) and forward
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) and forward / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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5 questions for the fourth quarter of the Orlando Magic's 2024 season

What are the keys to Orlando avoiding the play in tournament and making the playoffs?

The combination of a surging Orlando Magic squad going 8-2 in their last 10 games and 14-7 overall in the third quarter of the season, and some struggles by teams ahead of them in the standings at this point has resulted in a logjam between the fourth and eighth seeds in the Eastern Conference.

A logjam Orlando finds themselves smack in the middle of.

Orlando exited Tuesday and the third quarter of the season holding sole possession of fourth in the Eastern Conference. But the team is tied with the New York Knicks in fifth, only a half game ahead of the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers in sixth and seventh and 1.5 games ahead of the Indiana Pacers in eighth.

Every day is going to see a complete jumble of the standings. The Magic can only focus on themselves and what they can control.

That should highlight three games on the schedule.

March 8, March 10 and April 12 are the most important days remaining on Orlando's schedule and a full game will be available in the standings on each of these three days.

On March 8, the Magic find themselves matched up with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The March 10 matchup at Kia Center against the Pacers is a must-win. And April 12 is another road game with massive implications against the 76ers.

Orlando currently owns the tie breakers against the Knicks and Pacers. But Philadelphia has already won the season series against the Magic. As have the Heat. A division title is the first tiebreaker for any three-way tie, giving the Magic a huge advantage so long as they stay ahead of the Heat.

Ultimately, the main way the Magic will give themselves the best chance of avoiding the play in tournament and earning a top 6 seed is by playing their brand of basketball

What does that mean exactly?

Orlando's brand of basketball includes winning the battle in the paint on both ends of the floor, it includes winning the turnover battle, it includes crashing the glass, limiting second-chance points and, most importantly, it is focused on all-out effort on defense.

Defense travels, and Orlando has ranked top five in defensive rating all year. They posted a 111.4 defensive rating in the last 21 games. They have a 104.5 defensive rating in the seven games since the All-Star Break.

The Magic have been stellar defensively and have seen multiple players truly buy into the defense-first culture Orlando is buildling. It starts with Jalen Suggs who has blossomed into one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA.

Another important factor of the Magic making the playoffs directly is winning games they should win against subpar competition. Playing up or down to competition is not an option.

Orlando has the fourth-easiest schedule remaining in the NBA by opponent win percentage including an eight-game homestand on the horizon. There are still chances to bank up wins.

The Magic playing Orlando Magic basketball has put them in a great position for the playoff race. Orlando continuing to play that brand of basketball to finish the regular season will very likely determine their playoff position.