It is now only 40 days to the playoffs starting so I thought we’d take a quick & fairly simplistic look at the standings across the NBA.
The Race Is On!
As I reference regularly about the Magic we are firmly invested in the race for 7th or 8th seeding with the Brooklyn Nets in the East. With the gap between ourselves in 8th & those in pursuit it is becoming increasingly difficult to see us being caught. That is not based on an arrogance, just a realism when we consider the position of our closest chasing team, the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards are currently in 9th, sitting with 6 wins fewer but having played a game less. We hold the tiebreaker having swept them 4-0 this season. That requires them to win 7 games more than ourselves in their remaining 19 games. That is quite an ask.
We face the Nets twice more by the season end, being at Brooklyn on March 23rd & home on March 27th when Orlando Magic UK’s Mikey & Geraint will be in the Amway! It is possible that these games with Brooklyn will decide the 7th place seeding.
At this point we would face the number 1 team in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks have been steam rolling teams all season, that was until the current MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo went down with a knee injury. He is to miss the next game at least. If he is compromised for the playoffs then the East is wide open & the Bucks are not as daunting of a proposition.
Sitting in 7th at this time would see the Nets face the defending champion’s, the Toronto Raptors. If, as many Magic fans expect we take that berth it would see a rematch of the first round last season. Toronto are far from secure in 2nd & face a challenge yet from both the Boston Celtics & Miami Heat. That could be a fun competition as only 4 wins separate Toronto, Boston & Miami.
Philadelphia have to be sitting in 6th being thankful for their early form now that they have been without Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid & Josh Richardson. Indiana have recently overtaken them for the 5th seeding. Expect to see more positional jockeying between now & the season end.
In The West
To the West & the only team to so far have secured their involvement in the postseason is the LA Lakers. They are looking a certainty for the number 1 seeding in the West. Who they would face is more of a fight. The 8th seed is presently held by Memphis (32-32), who are 4 wins ahead of the Pelicans (28-36), Sacramento (28-36) & Portland (28-37). Would anyone have expected Portland to miss the playoffs at the season start?
In the race for seedings 2 through 7 in the West only 4 wins separates the six teams. Simply put nothing is certain for those teams, though their qualification is looking very likely as Dallas who are currently 7th have a 7 win cushion over Memphis in 8th.
Whilst little is expected of Orlando in the playoffs if we do qualify I feel we would go out & compete hard. We are not a team to simply roll over without fighting. Personally, I am happy for us to be involved as I consider it progress after our years in the postseason wilderness. The experience has to be good for the future as we know we will face a fight in an Eastern Conference where there are teams with obvious growth & improvements on the horizon.