5 questions for the second quarter of the Orlando Magic's 2024 season
Can the Orlando Magic manage the most difficult part of their schedule?
Before the Orlando Magic raced out to their fast start to the season and seemed to put themselves among the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference, we looked at this part of the schedule and noted this would be a critical juncture for the team.
They would need just to survive.
Orlando now can probably do more than just survive. The team should feel like it can win any game that it plays at this point. That is how well the Magic have played.
But they are still vastly unproven. Nobody knows if the Magic are the second or third-best team in the East or a team holding their place. They have already started to fade a bit as the expected pecking order in the East has risen to the top.
There is a lot more for this team to prove. And the schedule through the second quarter of the season sets up to challenge this team in a major way.
In the 20 games that comprise the second quarter of the season, only five are against teams that currently have a losing record. That would be last Friday's win over the Detroit Pistons, the Dec. 26 game against the Washington Wizards, the Jan. 2 game in San Francisco against the Golden State Warriors and the Jan. 7 and Jan. 17 games against the Atlanta Hawks.
The Pistons and Wizards are the only "tanking" teams in that group. Everyone else still clearly has playoff aspirations. The Magic will have to prove themselves over and over again.
For the most part this season, they have done so. In the first quarter of the season, the team went 6-6 in games against teams with records better than .500. That puts them still near the top of the Eastern Conference in those kind of games. But there is still clearly room for improvement.
Going .500 or a few games under .500 in this stretch of 20 games is not going to be the end of the world. That should still put the Magic squarely in the playoff picture -- the Magic went 14-7 in the first quarter of the season, if the team went .500 for the rest of the season they would finish with 44 or 45 wins.
But that is not the team's goal. At this point, a season like that might turn out disappointing. This is going to be a critical quarter for the Magic to learn how to win. And it will be a chance for this group to prove themselves among the best teams in the Eastern Conference.