The Orlando Magic have really leaned into the "Kingdom on the Rise" promotion they started with last year's City Edition jerseys.
The Magic's second version of their City Edition jersey with the darker blue hue and black accents has generally gotten good reviews and the grayish court with the chain mail-looking paint is at least aesthetically pleasing enough (or not too loud and out there like the team's orange flirtation).
The Magic's intro video for its City Edition and In-Season Tournament nights has leaned further into this, animating a suit of armor around Cole Anthony dunking and a moat and buttress around the spire of the Amway Center.
This is not merely a "Kingdom on the Rise" as the promotional material for one of the best young teams in the league is saying, it has become something real.
The Amway Center has become a fortress, a place that gives energy to its warriors on the battlefield and has become impenetrable to opponents that dare enter its gates.
Orlando is a different team at the Amway Center and on the Amway Center parquet (or In-Season Tournament paint job). They have become one of the best home teams in the league.
Do not think the Magic are unaware both of how well they have played or its importance to their success this season.
"Got to protect the home court," Cole Anthony said after shootaround before Monday's 104-94 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. "This is our home base of operations. We have to do whatever we can just not to let teams walk in here and feel comfortable."
Teams have indeed felt uncomfortable at the Amway Center.
The Orlando Magic have an 11-1 record at the Amway Center (it is 11-2 only because the team's loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Mexico City counted as a home game). They have also won nine games in a row at the Amway Center and only two of those games have had a final margin closer than 10 points (the wins over the Denver Nuggets and the second win over the Washington Wizards).
The Orlando Magic's lone loss at home was to the Dallas Mavericks, when the Magic built a 15-point halftime lead and despite a poor third quarter trailed by five points with five minutes to play before unraveling late.
That game feels like a lifetime ago and feels like an almost completely different team. In either case, the Magic have built much of their 16-7 record on the strength of their play at home.
The stats back this up too.
Orlando has a +5.2 net rating for the season with a 113.8 offensive rating and a 108.7 defensive rating. In the team's home games (that includes the Mexico City game), the Magic have a +13.0 net rating (the third-best home mark in the league) with a 120.0 offensive rating and 107.0 defensive rating.
You always expect teams to be better at home. But this is quite a margin.
And the Magic feel like a different team at the Amway Center -- scoring a league-high 21.2 points off turnovers per game at home (compared to 19.9 overall) and shooting 37.1 percent from three (compared to 34.3 percent overall).
Orlando has used its home games as a point of pride and a place to grow its vision for success.
"It's really important," Anthony Black said after shootaround Monday. "You don't want nobody to come into your house and beat up on you. We take big pride in winning at home. We've got good support from the fans and good energy in the building. Definitely good to keep that energy going."
The support has been the biggest thing. Orlando has sold out all but three home games this year and is averaging 18,819 fans per game at home games (including the Mexico City game), fourth in overall attendance in the league so far entering Monday's game.
This is not some flash in the pan. Those fans have made a difference with energy and noise. And this young Magic team has played to them -- especially Jalen Suggs with his defensive plays energizing the crowd and then Suggs demonstrating toward the crowd or waving goodbye after big plays to further feed them.
Everyone acknowledges that the home crowd and the home environment has played a big role in the team's success this season. It is a circular bit of energy where the team feeds off the crowd and the crowd feeds off the team, giving everyone a chance to feed off each other.
"It's been great and our guys recognize it," Jamahl Mosley said after shootaround Monday. "The fans start to recognize exactly how important they are to this team and this group. When they are cheering and getting us going, the energy in the building does so much for this group of guys who are already tied together. but when we feel that energy from the group and the fans that is around us, it does wonders for this group."
That is what a homecourt is supposed to be. And everyone recognizes it as the Magic have built their fortress. It has been tough for anyone to get through.
This will be a big advantage for the team as its season continues.