OMD Roundtable: Recapping the Orlando Magic's breakthrough season

The Orlando Magic were among the surprises in the Eastern Conference and the entire NBA this season. They broke through to become the fifth seed in the playoffs. Before those begin, we look back at a successful season.
The Orlando Magic experienced a surge this season and broke through to make the Playoffs this year.
The Orlando Magic experienced a surge this season and broke through to make the Playoffs this year. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
5 of 6

OMD Roundtable: Recapping the Orlando Magic's breakthrough season

What should the Orlando Magic’s starting lineup in the Playoffs be? Can Jonathan Isaac work at center?

Philip: I am still a bit skeptical about Jonathan Isaac playing center long-term. I think he still probably does not hold up physically in a day-to-day, game-to-game grind against centers, even though there are not a lot of those traditional back-to-the-basket centers in the league.

And I am still a Wendell Carter believer.

But I think the Magic need to have a quicker hook for lineups that do not work. And that includes having Isaac ready to handle either of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ big men. The Magic need to maximize Isaac’s minutes as much as they can. He is going to be really important for them in the Playoff series.

Brandon: Center-by-committee will likely be the route taken by Jamahl Mosley this postseason.

Injuries saw Goga Bitadze start 33 games at the start of the season -- the most of his career -- but only two came after mid-January. Since then, it has been all Wendell Carter, and will at least be that way this weekend.

Jonathan Issac, in an “injuries-off” mode of an NBA postseason run would most definitely slot "The Minister of Defense" at the 5. Unfortunately, the 58 games he played this year (the second-most in his career) will not hold up in a seven-game series.

The staff has held him out of the lineup once every week or so since returning from injury on Jan. 17, so a permanent spot at center for Issac would not make much sense.

But Carter has put together a solid 10.5 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game with nine double-doubles as a starter. Enough to get by this year in Orlando. If it is not, a Moe Wagner/Goga Bitadze roll threat combo could be valuable as an offensive option like it has been at times in the regular season.

Tyler: While starting Jonathan Isaac is so tempting, I also share the concern about him holding up day-to-day and game-to-game. I also think he has been a really good insurance policy for the Orlando Magic.

So many games the starters started slow, then Isaac was subbed in and a 10-point deficit went to 2-3 or an 8-point deficit was erased. He was also subbed in scenarios where the Magic were looking to build a lead.

I think Orlando should play him as many minutes as the team possibly can. And if an opponent is hot, he is the antidote in my opinion, but I think keeping him in that utility role for the Magic would make the most sense.

I would roll with the usual Jalen Suggs, Gary Harris, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter starting lineup. But coach Jamahl Mosley definitely needs to have a quicker hook, especially at the start of games. 

Omar: The starting five all depends on the outlook of how the team wants to match up with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Only the three starters of Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero should be locks going into the series. If the Magic want the size in the interior then the Magic should start both Jonathan Isaac and Wendell Carter to battle Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. On the other hand, if Orlando wants the perimeter defense with the shooting gravity then they should continue with Gary Harris alongside either Jonathan Isaac or Wendell Carter.

To start the series, I believe the Magic should continue to start Harris along with Suggs, Wagner and Banchero. Then at center, I would start Carter to give the size against Allen. But Mosley should be quick to enter Isaac for either Harris or Carter.

Coby: Matchups… Matchups… Matchups.

In some series Jonathan Isaac could work as a small-ball center. But playing against Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley you need to go as big as possible. I would say Isaac at the 4 is not a bad move, but the Magic need to play as big as possible.

I think a Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, Wendell Carter and either Jonathan Isaac or Goga Bitazde is the best option for the Magic. They need rebounding, paint protection, size and length.

Isaac also needs to be managed so he can play long-term, I feel like bench minutes over starter minutes might make him more available in the later games or even the second round. The only other option would be to start either Suggs and Harris or Suggs and Fultz for guard defense, but the size needs to be handled as the number one priority.

Alfred: The obvious two answers are your two best playmakers in Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner who fill in the 3 and 4 spots on the floor. In a dogfight-type of series against the Cleveland Cavaliers who are similar to the Orlando Magic, Jalen Suggs running the point is a good way to get the Orlando offense in initial control and a great way to combat the guard tandem of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell who can get hot and get Cleveland needed scoring.

I feel as if the 2 and 5 spots are the biggest questions and I feel Gary Harris is not a bad start by any means at the 2 to get some shooting on the floor that the Magic have desperately needed at times.

For the 5, at least for Game 1, Orlando should try Jonathan Isaac. In my eyes as he was not too bad at center. He can rack up blocks in a hurry accounting for more than half of the Magic’s blocks this season and can be a great way to get initial control of the paint over the Cavs.

But Jamahl Mosley, in my eyes, should also have his eyes on the bench often for center if needed with Wendall Carter Jr. and Mo Wagner waiting to give Issac needed rest and valuable minutes. 

Harrison: Coach Jamahl Mosley will have a difficult decision of potentially altering his starting lineup before tipoff against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.

The Orlando Magic have had success with their current lineup adding Gary Harris to the starting group. I think he remains and is tasked with guarding star Darius Garland.

The Magic are a team that likes to score in the paint and will be limited by Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Paolo Banchero will have difficulty scoring on and rebounding over Evan Mobley so the Magic will call Jonathan Isaac’s name often.

Isaac will see an increase in minutes to counterbalance Clevaland’s length, but I see him being substituted for Gary Harris if called upon to start. Pairing Jonathan Isaac and Wendell Carter would create a large starting five while still surrounding Banchero and Franz Wagner with shooters. 

Patrick: The Cleveland Cavaliers present an interesting dilemma for the Orlando Magic as far as the rotation is concerned. It is an intriguing option to give the nod to Jonathan Isaac but will he be able to handle Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen down low for potentially seven games? Probably not. And Goga Bitadze has stayed healthy as of late but I do not know if I see him consistently slotting into the 5 spot.

Wendell Carter may be the fit for the start of this series but it is up to Jamahl Mosley to adjust when needed. It should be noted that while the Cavaliers have size that is tough to match up against, the Magic can do it and I also feel like a small-ball lineup would work as the series progresses.