The Orlando Magic have arrived to the Playoffs

The Orlando Magic emphatically punched their ticket to the Playoffs with a resounding victory over the Milwaukee Bucks that ested their reolve, their will and their identity.
The Orlando Magic slammed their way into the Playoffs with a blowout victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Orlando Magic slammed their way into the Playoffs with a blowout victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

113. 38. Final. 88. 89. Magic Bucks Final 04.14.24

Orlando Magic coach Jamahl Mosley was going to talk to the team before Sunday's regular-season finale -- a do-or-die, win-and-in game against the 2-seed Milwaukee Bucks with plenty on the line for both teams.

But he knew there was not much that needed to be said. Everyone knew what was on the line at the Kia Center against the Bucks.

What needed to be said? The only thing the team could do was go out and play, right?

The Magic though have had this steely resolve since the start of the season. If nothing needed to be said, it is because there is already trust built in who this team is.

They have gone through the ups and downs and measured the same wavelength as their coach, always poised and cool and driving hard for that next defensive stop. The only way forward was to keep working and lift up their energy and give it to their teammates. The Magic just needed to find that spark again.

Orlando has been driving hard all season. There has been confidence and swagger in what this team could accomplish.

There was the 4-seed prophecy from Markelle Fultz last season. Paolo Banchero said as he accepted the Rookie of the Year Award last year that it was already Playoffs-or-bust for the Magic. They had big expectations for themselves.

This past week seemed to put that all in doubt. The team seemed to be cracking. The joy and determination that defined the season seemed to be fraying.

For the Magic to reach the Playoffs and win their way in, they would have to find themselves again.

Who is to say what moment in their 113-88 romp over the Bucks at Kia Center was the moment where everything turned? But it turned and the Magic could finally breathe a bit and celebrate their season and a Southeast Division championship.

They are going to the Playoffs and they punched their ticket emphatically under the most pressure. They did it their way.

"So proud of them," coach Jamahl Mosley said after Sunday's win. "There is not really a lot of words for it. You talk about a group who has been up and down, battled back, resilient. We can say all the cliche words that we want but they showed it. They proved it. Big stakes. They took it in their own hands, played togehte rnad played the right way. "

The Magic never can really place their finger on what turns the tide for them.

Was it a shot from Paolo Banchero that calmed nerves down and settled the team down? Was it Jonathan Isaac sliding over for a block and erasing that Khris Middleton layup? Was it Wendell Carter telling coach Jamahl Mosley to let the bench group ride and returning to the bench to keep a run going? Was it a steal and slam that powered up the crowd or Jalen Suggs diving on the floor to start a runout and dunk?

Was it all of those plays combined like a snowball coming down the hill?

Whatever it was, once this Magic team gets rolling, their confidence and energy spiked. They start hounding and getting after players. They start to create steals and find energy.

That is who this Magic team has been all season. They overwhelm teams with their effort and energy. They hound everyone into submission and are like a gnat no one can swat away.

The Bucks started to get hesitant and the Magic pounced with Jalen Suggs going for loose balls and the officials having to stop the game several times to clear up sweat from the floor.

This is Magic basketball. This is who they are. This is what they do. And eventually they had to find it again to reach their ultimate goal.

"It's part of everybody's character on the team," Franz Wagner said after Sunday's win. "We talk a lot about that about being composed and staying poised. Obviously for a young team and for guys who haven't been in that position, I think it's especially important to do that. I think it starts with everybody individually and everybody's character."

This team reached this height -- 47 wins and a 13-win improvement after last year's 12-win gain -- by getting after teams on defense and always bringing effort and energy. That is who this team is and its identity.

But that is not what young teams are supposed to do. That is the amazing thing.

Even Sunday's raucous win brought doubt.

Orlando trailed by 11 early and by eight after the first quarter. The team again got off to a poor start as they were late on rotations and fouled often. Their shots were not falling and the Bucks were able to get out in transition to score before the Magic could get their defense set.

It would have been easy for this young team to crumble there and lose some faith. But that is not who the team has been all year. This is a resilient team that has always stayed the course throughout the season. They have always found their way to bounce back.

That defined their season. And eventually they found their way back to it when they needed to most.

"For us being such a young team, it really does speak to our maturity," Jonathan Isaac said after Sunday's game. "Especially with the last few games that we had. We struggled. When really the rubber meets the road and everything is hanging on this game with our seed, for us to respond this way after going to Milwaukee and losing, to do this speaks to who this team is, our maturity and our growth and our ability to put it together when it matters."

Mosley said the team had been through this before. What little experience they had, it counted. And eventually they were able to find their center again.

They stayed poised and stuck to their defense to spark everything for them. That is who the Magic are. And embracing that identity and what made them successful all year was going to be their path forward.

They needed to do it again to announce their arrival.

But they hit the stage and hit it hard, making their presence known their way.

This is what the Magic have done all year. This is what the Orlando Magic will have to do if they want to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers and advance in the first round. This is what is the foundation for their run for years to come, if that is what is on the horizon.

The Magic sitll have a lot of work to do. But they have a reason to celebrate at last.

"It means a lot," Paolo Banchero said after Sunday's win. "I think we all expected it after last year. We felt like we were good enough to make that jump to this year. It was a teamwide expectation and we're sitting here now. I think we're all proud."

Next. Magic dream season 04.13.24. Orlando Magic's 2024 season a dream despite final week nightmare. dark

They have reached the playoffs and made their presence known to the league. Whether they or the league are ready for it, the Magic have arrived. The Playoffs come next.