Normally, defeating the top team in the conference on their home court would be a reason to celebrate. For Magic fans, that is not necessarily the case.
Not when the Magic have just missed out on drafting players like Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis and Jayson Tatum. Had the Magic lost a few more games in each of those seasons, and added a few extra lottery balls that may have bounced their way, perhaps there might be an end in sight for their on-going rebuild.
So, with the Magic out of playoff contention, fans are now left in an unenviable position. Do they root for the team to win, hoping to build confidence and a winning culture? Or do they hope for losses, bettering their chances of obtaining a top draft pick?
Those mixed emotions showed their ugly face on Twitter following what was arguably the Magic’s most impressive victory of the season on Sunday as Magic won in Boston for the first time since 2010 with a 103-95 victory over the East-leading Celtics. It was a performance to be proud of, equally impressive to that of their victories over the Cavs, Spurs and Timberwolves earlier this season.
But while some fans celebrated the unexpected victory, others complained of the Magic hurting their lottery odds.
As @ambarrovecchio commented on our Magic-Celtics game recap, “Happy to get the big win, but…it would be the most Magic thing ever to win just enough games to miss out on a top-five pick.”
That range of emotions perfectly summarizes the current state of Magic fans.
Having entered the night tied with the Hawks and Kings for the worst record in the league, the Magic now trail both by a half game in the Tanker Rankings. According to the website Tankathon, here are the updated draft pick odds for the Magic:
First pick = 15.6 percent
Second pick = 15.7 percent
Third pick = 15.5 percent
Fourth pick = 22.8 percent
Fifth pick = 26.3 percent
Sixth pick = 4.0 percent
In an attempt to reduce tanking, the league is implementing changes to the draft lottery in 2019, with the three worst teams each having an equal 14 percent chance of obtaining the top pick. But that in no way helps the Magic this season, particularly with some appealing prospects at the top of the board. There seems to be a consensus top-six at the moment with (in no particular order) Deandre Ayton, Marvin Begley, Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Michael Porter and Mohamed Bamba. While the Magic seem to be a lock to secure a top-six pick, it would also be beneficial to be in position to draft the player they want rather than having to settle for who falls to them.
The Magic, despite their record, have shown they have the talent and ability to compete with the league’s best. But by doing so, they risk playing themselves out of the top of the lottery.
Raise your hand if you were quietly hoping the Celtics would stage a comeback on Sunday? (Looking around the room to see if anyone else raises their hand before I do)
Would you prefer the Magic lose as many games as possible for the remainder of the season knowing a few extra wins could ultimately be costly?
Join the debate below….