How the Orlando Magic aim to respond facing elimination in Game 6

The Orlando Magic are noted for their youth. But facing Playoff elimination for the first time, they need to shed that young label and lean on the experience they do have and the preparation they have to extend their season.
The Orlando Magic took a tough loss in Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are going to lean on their limited experience and preparation to try to extend their season in Game 6.
The Orlando Magic took a tough loss in Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are going to lean on their limited experience and preparation to try to extend their season in Game 6. / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Ingles is the place every reporter goes when they get the chance for some perspective. The sage 36-year-old is the old man in the group. He has the most playoff games under his belt on the team. He is where everyone turns when they need a big-picture look at how this young team is developing.

He was a natural place to turn after Game 5, where the Orlando Magic took a one-point loss, losing on a blocked game-tying layup with five seconds left. The series was now 3-2 with the Magic facing elimination.

But Ingles was not having the talk of what this young team might learn. In his estimation, the team is no longer that young team. It has learned and shown enough to be ready for these games and succeed in them. They have enough experience to be prepared for the Playoffs and now the difficult challenge ahead of them, trying to force and win a Game 7.

"We got to the point halfway through the year and even more now, I hate this young slogan," Ingles said after Game 5 on Tuesday. "So to me, the young thing is a cop-out. It's an easy way or excuse. I'm not going to use it and I hope no one else does. I think we've handled different things throughout the year."

Ingles said everyone on this roster has been in big games at some point in their career. They have all been in knockout games — whether that was the NCAA Tournament, FIBA tournaments or high school. None may feel as big as Game 6 of the Playoffs, but they can draw on something.

They can draw on the experience of all 82 games this season and the do-or-die nature of their final week. They have some experience to go on in must-win situations.

Still, Game 6 on Friday is going to be different.

"That's the experience of the year," coach Jamahl Mosley said after practice Thursday. "Understanding what's at stake, how we need to play, what we need to accomplish throughout the game. We have been there before throughout these situations. We can lean on those as a reflection and a reference point. But Game 6 is going to be different than all of those. The atmosphere will be different. Our energy will be different. But we understand what is necessary to do."

Inexperience has been a factor in this Playoff series. The Magic have not shrunk from the moment and they have fought back on every turn. But Games 1 and 2 certainly looked like a team still getting their feet under them for most of their Playoff debuts.

The Orlando Magic have shown their inexperience, but they have gotten better as their series has progressed.

The Orlando Magic have grown into this series. They have stood tall and performed well.

They came back from Cleveland after Game 2 down 2-0 in the series and stood tall with a big win in Game 3 and matched it with Game 4. They returned to Cleveland to play a tight contest that came to the final buzzer.

The Magic have proven they can win in this series. And that has given them a sense of confidence even with their backs against the wal and facing elimination Friday.

"I think we're all hopeful," Cole Anthony said after practice Thursday. "We are back at home. This is a team we know we can beat. We've done it before. We need to lock in on the key points which is stopping the heads of the snake and keeping Mobley and Jarrett Allen off the backboard. Once we do that, we'll be fine. We lost a close one last game. A few mistakes here and there. This team is beatable. We've done it before, I think we can do it again."

For the first time this season, though, the Orlando Magic face postseason elimination in Game 6

Still. . . this is Game 6. This team has never faced the end of its season and the potential end of this journey.

Even when the Orlando Magic rallied for their regular season finale win over the Milwaukee Bucks, they had the promise of another game in the Play-In Tournament. That was just to get into the Playoffs. It was not their season on the line.

It is encouraging the team performed so well in that game with so much on the line. That is an experience the team can lean on. But this is different.

These Playoffs have been all about how this young Magic team responds to pressure. This is a pressure they have not experienced yet. And the Magic are going to have to be detailed in their preparation and have the right approach to be prepared and successful.

"I'm going about it the same way I've gone about it the rest of these games," Jalen Suggs said after practice Thursday. "I don't think there is any difference. Continuing to have good confidence, good joy, comfortability going into these games. Understanding that the work has been done, everything, all the preparation, the workouts, the training, going through tough moments, learning moments. All of that we have gone through has happened already. Now just enjoying this moment and being present here."

That is about all the Magic can do.

The Orlando Magic can only prepare the same way as they face elimiantion

Thursday's practice was more of a mental day, according to Cole Anthony. The team reviewed film and walked through its preparation for Game 6. They hope that will be enough to clean up the mistakes that cost them Game 5.

This is not the time of the year to push the body too hard on an off day between games.

The team has had to stew on that loss, their first close Playoff loss and a game the Orlando Magic could have won if not for their mistakes. It easily could have tipped in their favor and given them the chance to close out the series at home. That is how narrow the margins are between winning and losing the series.

Game 6 is another opportunity for this team. That is how they view it.

"Just understanding we are in the present moment, we are no longer in the past," Jalen Suggs said after practice Thursday. "All we can control is where we are at right now. That's Game 6 and handling business at home. Understanding we have played well here and that gives us confidence. But those games are in the past. That is going to have no effect on the next game coming up tomorrow. Continuing to be present where are our feet are, continue to be detailed in our work and have fun in the present moment."

That is all the Magic can do. They have to live in the moment. They hav to do all the work that has brought them here. They have to find whatever experience and pressure situations they have overcome to know what this is going to be like.

The home crowd will be there to lift them. But everything still rests on them.

This is not the same young team from the beginning of the season. The Magic have been through a lot.

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They have 48 minutes to extend their season.