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Magic vs. Pacers preview: Playoff implications for both teams

The ninth-seeded Magic face the fifth-seeded Pacers as both look to move up in the standings

NBA: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

While the Magic will be fighting for their playoff lives, the Pacers will be fighting for playoff positioning.

Orlando enters the game trailing Miami by a half game for the eighth seed, the Nets by one game for the seventh seed, and the Pistons by 1.5 games for the sixth seed. Further up in the standings, the Pacers are tied record-wise with the Celtics for the fourth seed, as the two teams battle for home court advantage in the first round.

The Pacers are coming off a 114-112 loss to the Celtics on Friday. Kyrie Irving’s last second shot helped the Celtics pull even for the four seed, and sent the Pacers back on a flight home to face the rested Magic in the second night of a back-to-back. Advantage Orlando.

The Pacers have played six of their last seven games on the road, with their lone win in that stretch coming in their only home game. While the Pacers have lost 10 straight on the road, they own one of the league’s best home records at 28-9, which includes four straight wins.

The last time they lost on their home court was nearly a month ago, and it was to none other than the Orlando Magic. That was on March 2 when the Magic defeated the Pacers, 117-112, behind Nikola Vucevic (27 points) and Terrence Ross (23 points) to take a 2-1 season series lead over Indiana.

The Magic hope to leave Indiana with another W and at least a share of the eighth seed. While the Heat play against the lowly Knicks and are all but assured of a victory, the Nets’ challenging schedule against the East’s elite continues with a home game against the Celtics. So it’s an important night for the Magic in terms of either gaining ground or at least keeping pace in the playoff race.

Indiana enters with one of the league’s best defenses with a rating of 105.4 points allowed per 100 possessions (3rd in league). Offensively they are middle of the pack, scoring 109.1 points per (18th). The Magic must find an answer for Bojan Bogdanovic, who in three games against Orlando this season, has averaged 24 points per on nearly 50 percent shooting, which is the most points he has averaged against an Eastern Conference foe this year.

Bogdanovic will be facing a Magic team that has posted the league’s best defensive rating since January 31st at 103.2 points allowed per 100 possessions. Orlando, however, struggled at both ends of the court in Detroit on Thursday, allowing the Pistons to shoot 53.5 percent, including 17-for-35 from three (48.6 percent), in a 115-98 loss that snapped a six-game winning streak.

The Magic look to get back to their winning ways and work their way into the postseason. Much like their G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic...