The Orlando Magic is 13th in the Eastern conference, but every team wants to end the season on a high note. On Tuesday, they lost a tightly contested game at home to Cleveland, 117-113, and were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Thursday night, they seek revenge against the same team.
With a loss to the Cavs, the Orlando Magic are eliminated from NBA playoff contention. pic.twitter.com/KacT4jrdoS
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 5, 2023
It’s always more difficult to swallow when a team plays a clean game and still loses.
Markelle Fultz had 23 on 65% shooting and eight assists.
The Magic did not beat themselves.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) April 5, 2023
Cleveland’s guards were just too good — a story NBA fans have seen many times this season. Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert combined for 62 points and 10 threes on 67% shooting. Darius Garland had a points-assists double-double. When a backcourt plays thoroughly complementary basketball, the team becomes nearly unbeatable.
The Greats Have a Short Memory
A loss like that, playing as well as the Magic did, can be discouraging. They played good ball, and they were rewarded by being knocked out of the playoffs.
With the Magic’s young, relatively inexperienced core, this will be an interesting test. It would be very easy for the boys in blue to roll over, show their bellies and allow the Cavs to climb the Eastern conference rankings. However, a winning team mentality would dictate that they take the loss personally and look to split the two-game set. They would see the narrow loss as evidence that Cleveland is beatable.
Give ‘Em Time
If someone is still an Orlando Magic fan, they have shown incredible patience. The team has won two total playoff games in the past 11 seasons. Their aggregate winning percentage from 2014-2023 has been just over 36%.
They have been very bad for a long time.
However, 20-year-old power forward Paolo Banchero is the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. 2021 No. 5 overall pick Jalen Suggs still has a lot to learn. Versatile center Wendell Carter, Jr. is only 23 years old. Shooting guard Markelle Fultz is getting back into an offensive groove at 24.
Paolo Banchero over his last 15 games:
39% 3P pic.twitter.com/BHnJi0myxH
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) April 4, 2023
Entering the 2023 season, Orlando was the second-youngest team in the league. They may have missed the playoffs, but Magic fans have a lot to look forward to.