Yes, in the immortal words of Barry Manilow, the Orlando Magic (this burg’s only pro sports franchise need I remind you) will finally return to the playoffs for the first time in four years. Granted, it took a monumental freefall by the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks to propel the 4-games-under-500 Magic into the 8th and final playoff spot, but to give them a little credit, they have won four out of the last five games. But it was the clincher a couple of nights ago against the lowly Boston Celtics that was so typical and could make even the casual viewer pull the hair out of their head.
Avoiding a historical collapse of monumental proportions, the team held on for dear life to win 88-86. What you wouldn’t know from that final score was that the Magic had a 19 point lead at home at the beginning of the 4th quarter, with a playoff spot on the line. They then proceeded to commit 10 turnovers in one quarter, which sadly was as many points as they were able to muster for the rest of the game. They actually failed to score a single basket the final 6:44 of the game. Hell, it looked like they could barely stay upright as players kept falling down as they committed turnover after turnover. Easily the most painful and least joyous playoff or series clincher I’ve ever watched.
Yet, here they are. Young, inept, inconsistent (to put it mildly), and probably just not talented enough to make any noise at all in the post-season. But if they can win their final two games and the Wizards lose their last two, the Magic will actually end up in the 7th spot and avoid the Pistons in the opening round. That would put them up against either the Bulls or the Cavaliers in the best of seven, and you gotta like those odds a bit more than going up against a veteran Detroit team that swept them (4-0) this year during the regular season.
So go ahead boys. Get that all important first taste of playoff experience. Nobody’s expecting you to have any success at all (why would they?), so you can play loose and maybe surprise us…or maybe not. I’ll be watching (and suffering) like always–good luck!