"Everybody In" means "Everybody In" for Orlando Magic to force Game 7

The Orlando Magic forced Game 7 with another rollicking home crowd and an effort that befits their Playoff motto. Everybody contributed to a big win in Game 6.
The Orlando Magic got contributions throughout their roster as they rallied together to force a Game 7 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Orlando Magic got contributions throughout their roster as they rallied together to force a Game 7 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Final. 96. 156. Magic Cavs Game 6 Final 05.03.24. 103. 38

The Orlando Magic expected to get a big game from Franz Wagner. They expected to get a big game from Paolo Banchero. They expected to get major contributions from Jalen Suggs.

They knew they would need everybody. They knew everyone would have to contribute to extend this series and fight off the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland did all they could to make sure a Game 7 did not happen. Banchero and Wagner did everything they could to make sure it did.

They were going to need everybody to get that last little inch.

And so on one of the most critical possessions of the game, with the Magic leading by three and about two minutes to play, a miss turned into an opportunity. An opportunity from one of the most unlikely players.

Cole Anthony came flying in from the wing as Donovan Mitchell crept into the paint to try to box Wendell Carter out. He tipped the ball in -- Anthony joked he should have dunked it -- to preserve a five-point lead with just less than two minutes to play.

That was all the air the Magic needed -- Franz Wagner said Cole Anthony won them the game with plays like that one -- as they finally stopped Donovan Mitchell and his 50-point performance down the stretch, hanging on for a 103-96 victory to force a Game 7 in Cleveland on Sunday.

"We're a team. Everyone contributed in this win. Literally everybody," Anthony said after Friday's game. "That's a heck of a dub. I'm at a loss of words for that game. I'm excited to go to Cleveland for Game 7."

Everyone was kind of at a loss for words for the biggest Magic win in more than a decade. A young team like this is not supposed to fend off elimination and face the deficit and adversity they faced and come out stronger for it. This Magic team was not supposed to do this yet.

But this is who they have been all year.

The Magic's playoff slogan is "Everybody In." That is the kind of team they are -- "by-committee" as Jamahl Mosley reiterates seemingly every game. In Game 6, facing elimination and their backs against the wall in a tight game, of course, that is what would come through for them.

That is the kind of unexpected contribution that teams need in a tight series like this. But that is what the Magic expect from this team.

It is a true symbol of how everyone on this team is working together and pulling for each other.

"I thought we just did a great job," Banchero said after Friday's win. "All 15 guys sticking together. There was a lot of communication in every timeout and every huddle. It was just a special moment everybody being engaged in a game like that and just lifting each other up."

There were plenty of moments in this game -- let alone this series -- where the team could have broken apart. With how young this team is, nobody probably would have faulted or blamed the Magic for conceding defeat and just taking the lesson and moving on to next year.

The Cavaliers were going all out to try to close the series in six games. This was a true fight between two teams with a lot to play for. And only one was coming out alive.

Cleveland put the biggest push of the game, coming out in the third quarter with a 17-4 run to take a nine-point lead. The Magic were a bit lost offensively, struggling to get the same 3-point looks that fell in the first half. The Cavs were able to get downhill to the basket as Orlando could not stop either Donovan Mitchell or Darius Garland -- the duo combined for 13 of those 17 points.

The Magic had to climb uphill again. Their defense was in shambles and their usual reliance on scoring in the paint was not there even with Jarrett Allen out once again.

The team though kept its poise under fire. They whittled down that lead. They never broke or hung their heads. They stayed the course to win.

That is uncommon maturity for such a young team, especially in such a pressure moment. The Magic were fighting for their lives, but they were not flailing. They did what they had to do and eventually the plays broke their way.

True to the motto, everybody contributed to the win.

"There was just a poise," Mosley said after Friday's win. "They understood what the gameplan was. They didn't try to chase it. They knew what we were trying to accomplish down the stretch. Guys made big plays. They trusted each other. They trusted the pass. They understood who had it going. They didn't shy away from it. It has always been by committee. This group is very special the way they keep pulling for each other no matter what is happening."

Mosley has continued to run his typical 10-man rotation. He opened the fourth quarter with his all-bench lineup again. That got plenty of groans from the armchair coaches. But that trust in the second unit is as essential to this team as anything else.

They rewarded that faith, buying Banchero, Wagner and Suggs an extra few minutes on the bench while Mitchell and Garland sold out to get the win. That group flipped a five-point deficit into a one-point lead in two minutes before the twin stars returned to the game.

The putback was not the only time Anthony made big plays. He had nine points in the game. Markelle Fultz added six points on 3-for-6 shooting with four assists, hitting big buckets and helping get stops just to give the team a chance.

Yes, Banchero (27 points, eight rebounds and four assists) and Wagner (26 points) did their thing in this one with Banchero especially hitting critical shots in the fourth quarter. Suggs added 22 points too, giving the Magic a rare trio of 20-point scorers in the Playoffs younger than 23.

Anthony said he had to earn some trust back after a rough series so far. But the team has kept that trust in everyone that plays. And when Anthony's number came up, he delivered.

This was a win that belonged to everyone.

"We're all so present and all so in the moment," Suggs said after Friday's win. "I think that's a ton of growth. . . . I've allowed my love for my brothers, my love for this game, and for the city to keep me motivated and locked in on the moment. The way that we have grown and responded and answered the clal the last two years when times were rough and times were good make this moment so sweet."

The emotions of the victory were abundantly clear. Mosley and Suggs shared a long embrace in the hallway before Suggs took the podium to meet with the media after the game. Anthony and Suggs embraced on the court too. There was a celebratory vibe in the locker room and in the hallways of Kia Center as the Magic lived to play another day.

But more importantly, this team is here and on the doorstep of the franchise's first playoff series victory since 2010 because of that belief in each other.

There is no one person that gets the credit for the victory. It is everybody. That is the banner the Magic have played these Playoffs under. That is their motto.

Next. Paolo Banchero reins next generation 05.04.24. Paolo Banchero is taking the reins as part of NBA's next generation. dark

They lived it to keep their season alive and make a statement. This team feels far from done as they had back to Cleveland.