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Revisiting Orlando’s Playoff History as the No. 8 Seed

The Magic are an eighth seed for the third time in franchise history


After a six-year hiatus, the Orlando Magic are in the NBA playoffs for the second straight season.

The Magic started their stay in the NBA bubble with a pair of wins, but dropped five straight before beating the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night. Still, Orlando did enough to secure a postseason berth.

At 33-40, the Magic will occupy the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Before Orlando takes on the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, we take a look back on their history as the No. 8 seed.

This will be the third time that the Magic hold the final playoff spot. On each of the prior occasions, the opponent was the Detroit Pistons.

2003 First Round: (1) Detroit vs. (8) Orlando

Series: Detroit won 4-3

Overview: Perhaps the most heartbreaking playoff series in franchise history, the Magic had three chances to win one game to advance. Thanks to a 43-point performance from Tracy McGrady to steal Game 1 and back-to-back home wins in Orlando, the Magic held a three games to one series lead.

Unfortunately for the Magic, they would be blown out in each of the final three games. After losing 98-67 in Game 5, Orlando returned home with a chance to close out the series, but the Magic were held to 39 percent shooting and committed 16 turnovers. Chauncey Billups paced Detroit with 40 points while shooting 7-for-14 from deep.

In the decisive Game 7 back in Detroit, Billups scored 37 points. The Pistons led by as many as 26 points before cruising to a 103-88 victory. McGrady, who had averaged nearly 34 points per game for the series, was held to 21 points on 7-for-24 shooting.

It had been seven years since the Magic had advanced past the first round of the playoffs. Orlando would have to wait five more before finally accomplishing the feat.

2007 First Round: (1) Detroit vs. (8) Orlando

Series: Detroit won 4-0

Overview: In the first playoff appearance since blowing the 3-1 series lead in 2003, the Magic were again matched up with the Detroit Pistons. With a roster that included young staples like Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick as well as veterans such as Grant Hill, Bo Outlaw and Hedo Turkoglu, just making the postseason was progress.

The Magic were unable to win a game in the series, but were competitive for most of the series. Orlando cut a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit down to three in the final minute of Game 1, but unable to score over the final 26 seconds.

Detroit Pistons v Orlando Magic, Game 4 Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Game 4 would be the only game in the series where Orlando held a second-half lead. Darko Milicic’s free throw gave the Magic an 86-83 lead with less than three minutes to play in the contest, but the Pistons responded with a 10-2 run. Orlando twice pulled to within two in the final 11 seconds, but the Pistons made their free throws to clinch the game and the series.

Although the Magic were swept, the series sent a message that the future was bright. Howard averaged nearly 18 points and 15 rebounds during the series, which included a 29-point, 17-board effort in Game 4. Nelson put up 27 points in Game 3 and averaged better than 14 points per game during the series.

Most Common Seeding

The No. 8 seed is now tied for the most common seeding in Orlando playoff history. The Magic have also held the No. 7 seed three times and the No. 3 seed three times.

Orlando has held all eight seeds in its 15 playoff appearances. The Magic have been the No. 2 and 4 seeds each twice. They’ve been the No. 1, 5 and 6 seed each once.