Jamahl Mosley has an opportunity to shine in the Playoffs

The NBA playoffs is a stage for players to shine and perform to grow their legacies. At the same time, while often overshadowed, coaches also have an opportunity to display their abilities. Jamahl Mosley now has his chance to grow above the culture-building label and grow alongside his players in his first playoff series.
Memphis Grizzlies v Orlando Magic
Memphis Grizzlies v Orlando Magic / Don Juan Moore/GettyImages

The playoffs are here for this young Orlando Magic team.

Everyone is breaking down the matchups and the head-to-head battles that will define this series. They are looking at what Paolo Banchero is going to have to do. How Jalen Suggs needs to slow down Donovan Mitchell. How Franz Wagner has to beat Evan Mobley. Or how Wendell Carter needs to hold his own against the big lineup.

The Magic's focus in the practices running up to Saturday's Game 1 has focused on the team being themselves and fine-tuning the things they have done to get to this point and reach the 5-seed in the Playoffs.

Everyone is eager to see how the players respond to the pressure of the Playoffs -- the Magic's future is on the horizon.

They are not the only ones who need this experience and need to meet the moment though.

Jamahl Mosley is going to be extremely important in the playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. This postseason is a test for Mosley too to see if he can be more than a culture-building coach that delivered the Magic to the postseason.

He needs to prove he has the tactical acumen to win in the Playoffs. It is his next level.

There are going to be coaching decisions from X's and O's to rotation decisions in the heat of the game to being able to rally his players when situations get difficult throughout the series. Mosley must be able to press the right buttons.

The big question is will Mosley be ready to answer the bell?

Sunday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks had multiple instances that gave a brief preview that Mosley will be ready for the pressure the playoffs will bring. He made the right decision at the right time in a game that had consequences and that Orlando had to win.

The players and coaches said the last three games of the season felt like Game 7, Sunday's win-and-in game was the first time the Magic seemed to act like it, starting Jonathan Isaac at center for some added defense and even limiting Markelle Fultz to six minutes. The Magic rode Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner for more than their normal minutes. The Magic put everything into winning that game.

Now, as the lights get brighter, it is time to put Mosley's coaching ability to the test.

As much as the talent on the floor matters in the playoffs, coaching is as important. These playoffs will be a learning experience for Mosley as much as they will be for his players.

There are going to be questions that will be answered against the Cavaliers. How quickly do you adjust? How do you adjust the rotation? Are you able to out-counter the opposing coach?

These are questions Mosley will answer as the building block to his playoff coaching career.

There have been a few choices that Mosley have made that have been playoff-esque.

His first decision was to start Isaac against the Bucks and not to play Fultz in the second half -- he played only six minutes in the whole game. Bucks coach Doc Rivers noted the Magic shortened their rotation in the win-and-in game. That is what teams do in the Playoffs and Mosley was willing to do what is necessary to ensure a win.

Orlando's postseason started early and Mosley began to trust his players and expand their minutes with so much on the line.

This was the first time in his head coaching tenure he changed from a deep rotation and was able to adjust to a high-level game.

At the same time, he must stay within his beliefs in the team working by committee and trusting his players. That is what happened Sunday too when Wendell Carter was selfless and benched himself because Jonathan Isaac was playing well.

Secondly, this was an instance that while Mosley was challenged as a coach to make a choice, he was able to stand by his principles and keep the togetherness the team has been building.

This Playoff series will be a test of everything the Magic believe in and everything they have built.

Cleveland poses interesting lineups that will force Mosley to make a decision starting with the starting lineup.

Then finally, Mosley will be challenged in a head-to-head coaching chess match that typically decides playoff series. Are you able to make a change before the opposing coach can make a change? Is there a counter ready? This separates the good coaches from the great coaches.

With the Cavs starting a 4-5 duo of Evan Mobley and Jarret Allen, they hang their hats on their size and potential to rebound. Mosley will have to decide to start the five that started against the Bucks, bring back Carter instead of Isaac or start both Isaac and Carter to combat Cleveland's size.

These are the questions Mosley will have to answer even before Game 1 tips off.

One of the first counters will likely come when J. B. Bickerstaff decides to sit one of Jarrett Allen or Evan Mobley as he has done multiple times to close games throughout the season. It will be interesting what coaching style Mosley decides to take -- either countering or sticking to his own game plan.

Throughout the first three seasons for this rebuild, Mosley has instilled a culture and spirit into this team and has started to translate on the court. Everything was always focused on the long-term and what they are building.

But the Playoffs are not about the future of what is being built. It is about maximizing the roster in the present and finding any way possible to get a win. This is new territory for Mosley as a head coach.

Mosley has already started to show the surface of his playoff decisions. But the pressure will hit a new level against Cleveland.

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All eyes will be on the players but if the Magic want to win this series Mosley will have to be able to push the right buttons and make the right decision when it counts.