Orlando Magic's greatest teams by tier
Tier 2: Getting Serious
The Orlando Magic have not been out of the first round very often in their history. There are the four teams we will get to in Tier 1 -- the elite of Magic teams -- and then there is the 2008 team that broke through with a series win over the Toronto Raptors (we will get to them).
That is it for playoff success.
That does not mean there are not memorable playoff teams along the way and teams that we care to remember and think about. There are teams that made a major impact despite not having the postseason success that we all want.
They can be teams like the 1994 Magic, the first team in franchise history to make the playoffs and a clear precursor to what would come the following year. Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee Hardaway took the league by storm and the team had homecourt advantage in their three-game sweep to the Indiana Pacers.
So many of these teams had the beginnings of really good teams. And that is what matters.
The Tracy McGrady era was great for the highs McGrady bought. He is the greatest scorer in Magic history. And he was a reason to show up to the arena every night (even if far too few Magic fans did).
The 2002 team represented his best overall group. Mike Miller in his second year came into his own as a good sidekick to Tracy McGrady (Grant Hill was, of course injured). The team's record was only slightly better than the previous season.
But this represented the Magic's highest finish in the McGrady era. They were the fifth seed and had a good chance against the Charlotte Hornets. If not for Baron Davis forcing overtime in Game 3, the Magic might have been able to take a decisive 2-1 series lead in the best-of-5.
McGrady had a stellar season that year, averaging 25.6 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game. Just another big statistical season without the help to make much of an impact.
The Orlando Magic have lost in the second round only once in their franchise's history. Still nobody seemed too upset when they took a five-game loss to the vaunted Detroit Pistons.
They were happy to be in the second round though, winning their first playoff series in 12 years with Dwight Howard as the team's anchor. He was incredible in his first playoff series with home-court advantage averaging 22.6 points and 15.8 rebounds per game in the five-game series with the Toronto Raptors.
The Magic knew they had something special in Howard before the season. This surprise season showed the beginnings of the 2009 Finals team and Howard's ascent to superstardom.
It was a special time for sure. And there is nothing quite like seeing a team on the rise.
The end of the Dwight Howard era was obviously a frustrating one. And there may have been no more frustrating and disappointing season in the Orlando Magic history than the 2011 season.
The team came off the disappointing finish to the 2010 season but still had championship aspirations. But from the very start of the season, something just felt off for this group. Orlando never really felt together and never felt like it had the same vibes as the previous team -- that was so together and so eager to play together.
The Magic ultimately made some major trades in December to try to cut out the rot. That panic move ended up closing the team's window.
Howard was of course good enough to keep the team in contention and give them home court. But the rest of the players did not step up and the window felt shut after a first-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks.