The OPP crew gets together to answer a few questions about the first half of the Magic’s season
Through the first 41 games of the season, there were ups and downs for the Orlando Magic.
And of course, there were 20 wins and 21 losses.
Members of the OPP crew – Aaron Goldstone, Garrett Townsend and myself – got together to answer some questions about the first half of the Magic’s season….
Fill in the blank: The Magic’s first half of the season was ________.
Garrett: Pretty much what I expected.
At the start of the season I picked them for 44 wins and a sixth-placed finish in the East, and at the moment everything is tracking roughly in that direction (although seventh now seems more likely). They’ve largely taken care of business against inferior opposition, with a smattering of inspiring wins and perplexing losses for good measure. At the halfway point the Magic are right where I thought they would be: in the box seat for a lower playoff seed, but a long way still from meaningful contention.
Mike: Better than expected, under the circumstances.
Before the season started, if someone said that NIkola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Al-Farouq-Aminu and Michael Carter-Williams would all miss time, I think we all would have signed up for a near-.500 record. Much was made about the benefits of bringing back essentially the same team, a team whose rotation players combined to miss just 12 games in the first half of last season. Vucevic nearly matched that on his own this season, missing 11 games in the first half. Few of us expected Markelle Fultz to be the healthiest of all Magic players, or for the Magic to utilize a starting lineup that included Khem Birch and Wes Iwundu, but here we are. And the Magic, albeit with some glaring areas of concern, have weathered the injury storm better than I would have thought.
Aaron: Frustrating. Frustrating on a few levels.
I found it a bit disappointing how up-and-down the Magic began the ’19-’20 campaign. The motto or slogan surrounding this Orlando team all off-season was “run it back”. Orlando returned all of the players that were part of the playoff rotation last year (and added a couple pieces as well). The team’s familiarity with one another and continuity was supposed to vault them out of the gate, as the rest of the conference took time to familiarize themselves with new core rosters pieces (Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, etc.).
Instead, the Magic dropped seven of their first ten games – three of those losses coming on their home floor.
And yes, the most obvious thing that has been frustrating about Orlando’s season thus far has been the amount of injuries that have forced the Magic to play short-handed many nights. Starters Nikola Vucevic (11 games), Jonathan Isaac (eight games so far, likely out for the year), and Aaron Gordon (six games) have already combined to miss 25 games for Orlando. Veteran reserves Michael Carter-Williams and Al-Farouq Aminu have also missed significant time due to injury this season.
The two losses already this season to the Atlanta Hawks were damn frustrating as well, especially the contest in late December.