Magic Clinch At Least .500 Record For Second Time In 12 Years, Play-In Berth

For the Orlando Magic, one goal is all but official.Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic, NBA News

That’s because the Magic secured at least a berth in the play-in tournament with an easy 112-92 home win over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday.

Now, there’s no way for the 11th-seeded Brooklyn Nets to catch them — even if the Magic were to lose their remaining 13 games. But that’s highly unlikely, given how far Orlando has come and how well it has played.

The Magic (41-28) currently sit in first place in the Southeast Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference, having won 12 of 15. 

They also secured their second non-losing season since 2011-12. (They finished 42-40 in 2018-19.)

“Obviously it’s cool to see we [could] at least clinch a Play-In spot but we’re not here to play for the Play-In,” guard Cole Anthony said before Tuesday’s win, via Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel. “We want to solidify a playoff spot.”

Knowing these Magic — young, energetic, and balanced — that next step isn’t all that far off.

Anthony led the way on Tuesday with 21 points, including 17 in the second quarter and helping Orlando coast to a 62-37 halftime lead. Jalen Suggs added 16 points, six assists and three steals, and All-Star Paolo Banchero scored 13 with five assists.

The Magic next host the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night.

Earlier on Tuesday, free agent guard Austin Rivers said the Magic are among the NBA’s most pleasant surprises.

“We always talk about the Knicks, the big-market teams, the Lakers, the Warriors … but the Orlando Magic have just been creeping the whole way through,” Rivers said on ESPN’s NBA Today. “They play harder than anybody in the NBA. We don’t talk about (Franz Wagner), we don’t talk about Paolo. This is a team built with a young core.”

“They just extended Jamahl Mosley, shout out, he deserves flowers for that. This is a team that’s buying in. (Fans and media) wrote off Jalen Suggs as a bust a couple of years ago — no, this is a key defender and a key role player. This is a team with a young nucleus that is getting it done. Headed to the playoffs. It’s very exciting for Orlando.”

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