Protecting home court
After a grueling stretch that saw them go out west for a six game road trip, and to Mexico City for the better part of a week, the Orlando Magic have a chance to get things back on track with a stretch at home.
That stretch starts on Sunday night against their in-state rival Miami Heat, continuing over the next week with games against the Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons, before heading back out west for yet another long road trip. Having lost five of their past seven, including an ugly loss in Chicago on Friday night, getting back on track at home is going to be huge as the Magic look to avoid yet another tailspin out of contention.
Through 17 home games, the Magic sit at 8-9 at home, compared to 6-8 on the road. With the chance for more practice time to sharpen some of the areas they’ve been struggling in, that mark at home could go up. Add in the fact that winning on your home court is imperative to success in the league — only one team in the last four seasons has lost more than 18 home games and made the playoffs — and this stretch carries even more weight for the Magic.
“It’s critical,” said coach Steve Clifford when asked about the importance of winning at home. “We’re obviously coming off of two very disappointing performances anyway, but the reality is we’ve played a lot better on the road, counting Mexico City as road games, then we’ve played a lot better on the road than we have here. I don’t know why it is. If we’re going to have the season we’re hoping for, we’re going to have to win in our building.”
While all four games carry high significance for the Magic, Sunday night’s against the Heat might be the most important.
Holding two wins against the Heat already this season, the Magic, who currently trail Miami by one game for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, can clinch the season series, and tiebreaker with a win. It would also move them back into a virtual tie for the last spot in the playoffs.
Being able to protect your home court, especially while things aren’t going well, is key. Add in their road heavy schedule to start the new year, and finding success on their home court will be even more important, and that starts with Sunday night against the Heat.
Wade’s final game
For the final time in his illustrious career, Dwyane Wade will play against the Magic in Orlando on Sunday night.
Having announced this would be his final year prior to the start of the season, Wade’s “farewell tour” is making it’s second and final stop in Orlando. The Magic came out victorious in the first game on opening night, and a win on Sunday would carry potentially monumental importance later in the season.
Over 44 games against the Magic, Wade has had great success, scoring 20+ points in 35 of those 44 games, including a 50 point performance on February 22nd, 2009. He also notched 11 30+ point games against the Magic, which is tied with Philadelphia, Cleveland and Golden State for the fourth most against a single team. Only the Knicks (12) and Toronto and Indiana (14) allowed more in his career.
Seemingly every time Wade would lace them up against the Magic, he would give the fans a show they wouldn’t soon forget. He’s had one of the best careers of any shooting guard in NBA History, and is surely on his way to being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
For now, he’ll see if he can turn back the clock on more time, and give the fans in Orlando something to cheer about in his final game in the Amway Center.