Orlando Magic vs. Milwaukee Bucks: The battle for the 2nd seed

The Orlando Magic control their own destiny and will have an opportunity to lock up the second seed in the Eastern Conference with a couple of wins.
Chicago Bulls v Orlando Magic
Chicago Bulls v Orlando Magic / Rich Storry/GettyImages

The Orlando Magic control their own destiny.

If there was a such thing as a must-win back-to back scenario, it is this week during the final week of the season.

The Magic have a daunting task ahead of them on the road as they play the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night and then travel to play the Milwaukee Bucks the next night. Every game will matter with the Magic tied with the New York Knicks for third in the Eastern Conference and holding a half-game lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers entering the final week of the season.

These will be an appetizer for their Playoff run because the Rockets are vastly improved since the last time they saw the Magic on opening night -- although the Rockets have since been eliminated from Playoff contention. And the Milwaukee Bucks have lost four straight games to the Washington Wizards, Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors and the New York Knicks.

Still, the game Wednesday has major playoff implications. The Magic trail the Bucks by one game for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. With two games remaining against Milwaukee -- Wednesday's game at FiservForum and Sunday's regular season finale at Kia Center -- the Magic truly do control their own destiny for the 2-seed.

When they match up against each other on Wednesday this will be a battle for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

But for this battle to be epic, the Bucks will have to lose to the Celtics and the Magic have to beat the Rockets on Tuesday night. Both teams are playing in back-to-backs so there will be no excuse of fatigue, although the Magic are traveling signifiantly further coming from Houston.

The Magic still have injury concerns to worry about too. Jonathan Isaac sat out the second half of Sunday's game with back spasms that kept him out of Friday's game in Charlotte. Isaac has not played back-to-backs this year anyway and seemingly would be unlikely to play Wednesday anyway.

He will be needed in both games if the Magic want to pull off wins in both matchups.

Franz Wagner too is dealing with an ankle injury after leaving Sunday's game after rolling his ankle. His status for either Tuesday or Wednesday's game is unclear. The number one thing the Magic have to do though is win games to secure their Playoff spot.

That is the part that will not be easy with a tough finish to the season -- including this three-game road trip that ends with another big game Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Still, there is the chance for a playoff-like intensity and atmosphere. Wednesday's game is one to circle on the calendar.

If the Bucks lose to the Celtics and the Magic beat the Rockets on Tuesday, it sets up a Playoff-type game scenario for home-court advantage through the first two rounds. If the Magic win, it puts them in a position to host in round two if they are able to get out of the first round. The team plays significantly better at home compared to how they have fared away from the Kia Center.

The Magic are one of the better teams in the conference when it comes to defending home court and are currently 28-12 at home. Not too shabby for a young up-and-coming team. It would be better for the team to play on rims they are used to when the games start to ratchet up in the Playoffs compared to playing in the second round on another opponent's court.

Magic players have noted how much they feed off the raucous crowds inside Kia Center. That would be a huge boost for an inexperienced Magic team.

The Celtics and the Bucks are the only teams in the conference with better home records. But both of those teams have a plethora of solid veterans playing their roles to help contribute to what their star player brings to the table.

The Magic have not played in a regular season game to determine home-court advantage in the second round in quite some time. The fans in Orlando were praying for a Play-In appearance at the beginning of the year but now find themselves in striking distance from an NBA title.

Fans may be wringing their hands over which matchup they might get in the Playoffs. But Orlando should be hoping to climb the standings and make the most of this season.

The game against the Bucks on Wednesday will show us just how far the Magic have come as an organization. They know what is at stake. And even with the potential for some severe fatigue on one of those "schedule losses," it will go a long way to showing whether the Magic are ready for the postseason.

This is not the Charlotte Hornets from last week, this is a team you know that you may see down the line. There is no excuse for coming out lackluster and not motivated against Giannis Antetokounmpo and company. Whatever energy the Magic can muster after their evening of travel from Houston has to be emptied for this game.

This game means more than they probably know.

But the battle for the second seed between the second and third-best teams in the conference begins on Wednesday at 8 p.m. and we will see just how bad the Magic want it.

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And if the Magic cannot find a way to win Wednesday. They will get a second shot at it Sunday on their home floor in a game that should still carry a lot of significance.