The 2019/20 season hasn’t necessarily gone as planned for the Orlando Magic.
After hitting the injury jackpot last year, and only losing 16 games to their top-six rotation players, the Magic have been bitten by the injury bug all too often this season. Key players like Jonathan Isaac, Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and D.J. Augustin have all missed, or are currently missing significant time. Add in injuries to key role players like Al-Farouq Aminu, and Michael Carter-Williams, and it’s been a tough first half of the season for the Magic.
Now, back off their final West coast swing of the season, the Magic settle in for a key stretch before the All-Star break.
Winners of seven of their last 11, the Magic face some tough tasks in the coming weeks. With games against the likes of the Boston Celtics (twice), Los Angeles Clippers, two against the in-state rival Miami Heat, and a final matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks, before the All-Star break, the Magic will be tested greatly.
The first test comes at home on Friday night against the Celtics.
Boston, who currently sits fourth in the Eastern Conference, has sputtered some recently after a hot 25-8 start to the season. The Celtics have lost contests to the lowly likes of the Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, and the Phoenix Suns over the previous weeks, and have seen period of inconsistent play begin to spread through the team.
The Magic, who have signature wins against the Los Angeles Lakers, and Heat this month, could use another win against one of the leagues best. Add in the fact that, depending on how the top of the Eastern Conference plays out between now and April, the Magic could see the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, and Friday nights game becomes even more of a big deal.
The game will feature two of the top-five teams in the league in terms of points allowed per game, and the fifth and sixth teams in team defensive rating as well. If the Magic are able to find ways to break down the stout Celtics defense, it will undoubtedly be a confidence booster moving forward.
It’ll be a good test for the Magic to see where they currently sit against one of the East’s best teams, and how they could fare should they meet later on down the road. It’ll also be a significant game as the Magic look to protect their home court, something they’ve struggled with at times this season.
If the Magic want to begin to make the second half push they did last season, which coach Steve Clifford has hinted at as a possibility, the Magic have to start somewhere, and Friday night’s contest against the Celtics is the perfect place to start.
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