Entering the final week of the season, it looks like the Orlando Magic, with a 23-57 record, will finish with the third-worst record in the NBA, and therefore the third-best chance to win the NBA Draft Lottery. It is still possible the Magic could catch the Utah Jazz, who have 24 wins, and the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, who each have 25 wins.
Contrary to the incorrect information I provided last week, there are no tiebreakers involved with lottery teams that finish with the same record. The tied teams receive the average of the total number of combinations for the positions that they occupy. The team that finishes with the third-worst record would get 156 lottery combinations in the drawing, while the team with the fourth-worst record would get 119 lottery combinatinations. So if the Magic finish tied for the third-worst record, both teams would receive 137 lottery combinations, with a coin flip to determine which team gets the extra combination.
The Magic will be solid underdogs in both games this week. Here's a look at the schedule:
Monday, April 14th: Magic at Chicago Bulls, 8:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Florida
The Bulls, who have one of the best records in the Eastern Conference since January 1st, had their seven-game winning streak ended by the New York Knicks Sunday night. Chicago is tied with the Toronto Raptors for the third seed in the East, with Toronto holding the tiebreaker.
Bulls' center Joakim Noah is playing the best basketball of his career, as he is tied with the Warriors' Stephen Curry and the Pacers' Lance Stephenson for the most triple-doubles in the league this season with four. Noah also has eight games of at least ten assists on the season. Swingman Jimmy Butler and reserve power forward Taj Gibson are both legitimate possibilities for the All-NBA Defensive Team, while point guard D.J. Augustin has been a revelation since being picked up off the scrap heap in December after former MVP Derrick Rose was injured. Augustin has averaged 14.9 points per game on 58 percent True Shooting.
The Magic have been very competitive with Chicago in their two previous games, as they stunned the Bulls in Chicago 83-82 on December 16th. That was only one of four road victories for the Magic this season, and the last time they won on the road.
In their other game, the Magic and Bulls played one of the more exciting games of the NBA season in a 128-125 Bulls' triple-overtime win in Orlando on January 15th.
Wednesday, April 16th: Indiana Pacers at Magic, 7:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Florida
Despite losing 13 of their last 22 games, which included several blowout losses in that stretch, the Pacers have the inside track for the top seed over the Miami Heat in the East with a 55-26 record. Indiana, who has the best defensive rating in the league, needs just one more win or a Heat loss to clinch the top seed in the conference.
Small forward Paul George averages 21.7 points per game on 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals. George's shooting has dropped considerably throughout the season, but he still has a True Shooting Percentage of 55.5 percent. Small forward Evan Turner has been a major disappointment since the Pacers traded for him in February, as he is averaging just 7.1 points per game on 45.3 percent True Shooting.
The Magic are 1-2 against the Pacers this season, losing twice in Indiana but coming up with one of their best victories of the season, a dramatic 93-92 victory on February 9th in Orlando.