Orlando Magic NBA Bubble Restart Preview
ORLANDO MAGIC (30-35), 8th place Eastern Conference
Where are they now: The Magic are in the playoffs as the No. 8 seed when the league restarts. And with only a half-game separating the Magic from the severely-depleted Brooklyn Nets, a shot at the 7th seed isn’t unreasonable. The only team the Magic have to worry about bouncing them from the playoffs is the Washington Wizards, who will begin play 5 ½ games behind and without their star player, Bradley Beal. So the Magic all but have a playoff spot locked up.
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The Orlando Magic First Half Highlights
The Magic had won three in a row and eight of their past 12 when the season was halted on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Magic’s calling card all season has been defense and taking care of the basketball. The Magic had the league’s 10th-best defense and the second-fewest turnovers per game (12.6) prior to the pause.
The Magic hovered around .500 for most of the season’s first half until a midseason swoon dropped them to nine games under .500. Orlando lost 10 of 12 prior to the All-Star break to drop them to 22-31 on Feb. 8. The Magic won their final two games before the ASB and then started to figure things out until the pause. Evan Fournier was having a career season, averaging 18.8 points per game.
Orlando Magic NBA Bubble Roster Rundown
The Magic first reported to the Walt Disney World Resort minus Markelle Fultz and James Ennis. Fultz was dealing with a personal issue, unrelated to the coronavirus, and Ennis told reporters Wednesday that he was the one Magic player who had tested positive for COVID-19. Both players are now with their team on campus and Ennis is back at practice while Fultz is serving his quarantine protocol.
The Magic won’t know for another 2 weeks about Jonathan Isaac (knee) and his ability to return, and Al-Farouq Aminu (knee) is not expected to return. Isaac was averaging 12.0 points per game in 32 games, all starts, and Aminu had only played in 18 games, starting two.
Nikola Vucevic leads the scoring effort at 19.5 points per game for the Magic, who rank 27th in the league in scoring at 106.4 points per game. Vucevic also leads the team in rebounds (11.0) and Fultz leads in assists (5.2).
Fournier’s 18.8 scoring average was more than 4 points better than his career average of 14.1 and a full point better than his best season in 2017-2018 when he averaged 17.8 in 57 games with the Magic. The shooting guard had a stretch of three 30-point games from Nov. 27 to Dec. 3. His season high of 32 came on Dec. 1.
Ennis played in 12 (10 starts) games for the Magic after a midseason trade with the 76ers, averaging 6.8 points.
Orlando Magic NBA Bubble Playoff Outlook and Magic Best Bets
The Magic are all but in. In fact, with two games against Brooklyn, the Magic could easily hop over the depleted Nets into the 7th spot to avoid having to play the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. The Magic play the Nets in their first game back on July 31 and will meet them again Aug. 11.
The Magic have to contend with four teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference – the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers. They also have two games with the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans to round out the eight-game sprint to the postseason.
However, ESPN’s playoff projections don’t give the Magic much of a shot to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. The Magic have just a 3 percent chance of winning their first-round series, which will most likely come against the Bucks or the Raptors.
Orlando Magic Best Bets: The Magic are a darkhorse bet to do much of anything in the playoffs. Sugar House has the Magic at plus-30000 to win the NBA title and the odds are even longer at Caesars – plus-50000.
Caesars has the Magic at plus-5000 to win the Eastern Conference and Sugar House has them at plus-8000.