It has been a long time since the Orlando Magic have been what you could call a ‘relevant team.’ They haven’t been to the postseason since 2012, and they still were not too relevant then. For the second season in a row, they were knocked out in the first round.
That was also the last time they finished a season with a record above .500, 37-29. Orlando has never won the NBA Finals, and to see when they last won the division you have to go back to the 2009-10 season. Dwight Howard was still a respected member of the team, and Stan Van Gundy was the head coach.
So, yeah—it’s been awhile.
This season, they have shown some promise, but heading into Monday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors, they are still below .500 with a record of 38-39 and just five games to play—including Monday’s contest.
It doesn’t look promising for the Magic. Yet, they are still favored to win their division (the Southeast Division) according to 888sport.com (as of April 1):
- Orlando Magic -200
- Miami Heat +150
- Charlotte Hornets +1400
The Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks have already been eliminated from contention.
Charlotte has a record of 35-41 and are three games back of the division-leading Miami Heat. Technically, they could still pull it out. But they would need to win out which would include games against Toronto, Utah, and Orlando and would need some help.
That means the race is going to come down to Orlando and Miami.
The Heat have been in the lead for some time, but that lead is now down to just a half-game. With six games left and Orlando with five, that means the division could easily go to either team. So, then how come oddsmakers see Orlando winning the division rather than Miami?
Miami has been the more consistent team this season, but that means they have just been an ‘okay’ team all season. Their record during February and March was just 14-12 leading to their current record of 38-38 (prior to their game against Boston Monday night). Winning as much as you lose is essentially the definition of an ‘okay’ team.
They aren’t good, but they aren’t bad either.
Orlando currently has a sub-.500 record, but they have been playing much better than being a sub-.500 team would indicate. Their record during February and March was 17-8. Their recent loss to Detroit saw the end of a six-game winning streak, the longest the team has had in eight years.
To be fair, five of those six wins were at home where they are 23-16, but the one win on the road was an important one over the Heat. They followed up the loss to the Pistons with a win over the Pacers in Indianapolis. Over the last two months, they have gone 7-7 on the road.
So, on the road, they are just okay, but that is much better than their season-long road record would indicate (15-23).
The Magic has some tough games remaining on the road (Toronto, Boston, and Charlotte). But they have won in Boston and Toronto; Charlotte has given them more trouble this year than any of their remaining opponents.
Orlando is 10-4 this season against their last five opponents with two of those losses coming against Charlotte. With how they have been playing, it is not hard to see them going 4-1 down the stretch. But will a record of 42-40 be enough?
Miami has a much tougher road with two games against Boston and one against Minnesota, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. Against them, they are 3-8 this season with two wins coming against Brooklyn.
Miami’s best to pull it out will be if the playoff teams they face rest guys down the stretch; otherwise, Orlando is going to win this division.