How the Orlando Magic stack up with potential Eastern Conference playoff opponents

The Orlando Magic are positioned for their first playoff appearance in five years. With a young squad hungry for postseason success, here is a look at how they stack up against each potential Eastern Conference playoff opponent when records turn to seeds.
Indiana Pacers v Orlando Magic
Indiana Pacers v Orlando Magic / Don Juan Moore/GettyImages
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How the Magic stack up with each playoff opponent

Philadelphia 76ers (7th)

Those sneaky Philadelphia 76ers.

The Philadelphia 76ers struggled without Joel Embiid, going 10-18 with him out of the lineup after tearing his meniscus. But they never lost a grip on a Playoff spot. Now they have won five straight. Embiid is back and looking like an All-Star again. And suddenly they are breathing down the neck for the 3-seed -- with the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets all at home remaining on their schedule.

The Magic certainly have not forgotten about them, given the pair of blowouts the 76ers gave them around the turn of the calendar year.

With or without the reigning NBA MVP, Philadelphia made quick work of the hometown Magic at a point in the season where it felt like Philadelphia was secure as a top-three seed in the East. The Sixers are starting to play like that again.

Much has changed since -- Orlando is fighting for a top seed in the East, while the 76ers lurk in the Play-In, likely to make some real noise if they secure a spot in the Playoffs. Magic coach Jamahl Mosley knows the threat of Joel Embiid now that he is back in time for the postseason.

“He’s the MVP for a reason,” said Mosley. “I mean we can have every game plan, you can have every scheme, but you know he’s getting to the area – and you put a hand on him it turns into a foul. If you don’t put a hand on him, he’s making that 15-, 17-footer that he’s shooting at a 60 percent clip.”

This was evident in their Jan. 19 matchup.

After losing by 20 a few weeks prior without having to deal with the MVP, Orlando's chances at a rebound against the club was a losing battle as the first half drew to a close. Clinging to a one-point lead, Orlando fell victim to an 11-0 run by Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey -- complete with an off-the-glass-to-himself alley-oop to give the visitors a 62-52 lead. Both Embiid and Maxey had 30 points in that game giving the Magic no relief.

On the positive end, Wendell Carter posted one of his best games despite being defended by Joel Embiid -- his 25 points and 11 rebounds in just 26 minutes led the way in both categories for the Magic in a game they failed to lead from that one-point advantage late in the second.

If a 76ers-Magic Playoff series came to fruition, Carter's production -- as it was against New Orleans last week -- will need to be more consistent against Embiid.

On the offensive end, Carter has improved mightily since returning from injury this year. He is averaging 15.9 and 8.8 rebounds in games taking more than eight shots per contest against the Sixers. Getting Wendell Carter involved on the ball allows this Magic team to spread the floor, allowing for more isolated chances for Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner

It is shown most notably in Jamahl Mosley's 'Delay Chicago' action -- Carter has recently been the recipient underneath as the lone big on the floor and uses Banchero or Wagner as decoys out on the wing.

Next. growing during playoff push. Magic learning, growing in the chase for the Playoffs. dark

This will be a key action against Phildelphia this postseason.

Carter's playmaking and quick-decisionmaking in this action -- using him as a roller and a receiver in the middle of the floor -- will force Embiid to defend outside the paint and allows the Magic's two top scorers many chances at getting to the basket in more isolated situations.