Less than one month separates us from the start of the Orlando Magic’s 2022-23 season. For the franchise, this will be its 34th season.
Short of an NBA title, the Magic have accomplished many things throughout their history. We conclude a three-part series by looking back on some franchise firsts.
The final part will focus on the postseason:
First Playoff Appearance: 1993-94
After finishing one win shy of making the playoffs the year prior, the Orlando Magic finally broke through during the 1993-94 season. With a second-year superstar center in Shaquille O’Neal, a standout rookie guard in Anfernee Hardaway and a first-year head coach in Brian Hill, the Magic increased their win total by nine and had their first-ever winning season. Orlando finished 50-32 and captured the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
First Playoff Series: Lost to Indiana Pacers 3-0 in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
The Magic’s first-ever playoff appearance was not one to remember. Despite having home-court advantage, Orlando was swept by the Indiana Pacers in three games in the first round. After dropping a pair of heartbreakers by a combined three points in Orlando, Indiana ran away with Game 3 back at Market Square Arena. The Pacers would go on to reach the Eastern Conference Finals but fall to the New York Knicks.
First Playoff Win: Beat Boston Celtics 124-77 in Game 1 of Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on April 28, 1995
After getting swept by Indiana the year prior, the Magic opened the 1995 NBA Playoffs by handing the Boston Celtics their worst postseason loss ever. As the No. 1 seed in the East, the Magic dominated from the start in a 47-point victory. Shaquille O’Neal and Horace Grant each recorded double-doubles as eight Orlando players scored in double figures. The Magic shot 49% from the field and a stellar 9-for-17 from beyond the arc.
First Series Win: Beat Boston Celtics 3-1 in 1995 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
The Magic were big favorites against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 1995 NBA Playoffs, but things did not come easy for Orlando. After blowing out the Celtics by 47 points in Game 1, Boston stormed back to even the series with a Game 2 victory. The next two games back in Boston were each decided in the final seconds, but the Magic found a way to win a pair of close ones in what would be the final games at the historic Boston Garden.
First NBA Finals Appearance: Lost to Houston Rockets 4-0 in 1995 NBA Finals
During the 1995 NBA Playoffs, the Magic closed the historic Boston Garden, handed Michael Jordan his last series loss and avenged a sweep from the year prior by knocking off the Indiana Pacers. What they couldn’t do was beat the reigning NBA champion Houston Rockets. The Magic let a 20-point lead slip away in Game 1. Nick Anderson missed four late free throws that would have put the game away before a Kenny Smith three-pointer sent the game into overtime. Houston won Game 1 and never looked back. The Rockets handled the Magic in Game 2 before winning both games back in Houston.
First NBA Finals Win: Beat Los Angeles Lakers 108-104 in Game 3 of NBA Finals on June 9, 2009
The Orlando Magic have been to the NBA Finals twice and lost both times. In 2009, however, the Magic ensured they would not be swept. Trailing two games to none to the Los Angeles Lakers, the series shifted to Orlando and the Magic set an NBA Finals record by shooting nearly 63% from the field. Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis each tallied 21 points to lead Orlando to a 108-104 victory. The Magic were a made free throw away from putting away the Lakers in Game 4, but a late Derek Fisher three-pointer forced overtime. The Lakers took Game 4 and then ultimately Game 5 to end the series in Orlando.