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With one-sixth of the regular season in the books, the Orlando Magic are 8-3, Dwight Howard hasn’t been traded yet, Ryan Anderson may be emerging as a star, and J.J. Redick is off to the best start of his career. There’s a lot of positives to point out for the Magic.
Yet with Orlando’s one and only back-to-back-to-back this season starting today and a schedule that’s about to get tougher in the next coming weeks, there’s a lot of questions waiting to be answered.
Magic Basketball is here to try to forecast the road ahead for the Magic.
How many wins do the Orlando Magic get on their lone back-to-back-to-back?
Nate Drexler: Two. It really shouldn’t be too much trouble to pick up the first two out of three. It will be San Antonio who presents the biggest problem for Orlando. On the back end of a back-to-back-to-back, the Spurs will just be too tough. It will be next to impossible to show up ready to compete with San Antonio after that much travel.
Danny Nowell: Two. I would say three, as I think all three of these teams are decent matchups for the Magic right now, but focus and effort have already been occasionally lacking, and this is the stretch in the season that most requires effort and focus.
Matt Scribbins: Three. They’re clearly a better team than the Knicks and Bobcats. For whatever reason, teams have been playing surprisingly well in the final game of the dreaded back-to-back-to-back. The Magic have too much momentum right now to lose at home to a depleted Spurs team in a huge gut check match up.
Fact or Fiction: Ryan Anderson will be named an All-Star this season.
Drexler: Fiction. You basically have to live in Orlando to know how well Anderson is playing this season, and when I say “good,” I simply mean compared to how he’s been in past years with fewer minutes. His strong play and efficiency is a pleasant treat to be sure, but not making any kind of national news.
Nowell: Fiction. He will perform at an All-Star sub level, but the lack of name recognition and the perception of his being a one dimensional player will keep him out of the game.
Scribbins: Fiction. All-Stars are not necessarily the best players from the first half of the season. Lots of nominations are nothing more than lifetime achievement awards. However, players often make it a year after they bust out so Anderson may positioning for a spot on next year’s roster.
What about the Magic’s 8-3 start has surprised the most?
Drexler: The fact that they aren’t winning in pretty ways. Several wins have been battles against sub-standard teams, and in previous years I feel like the Magic would have dominated some of these wins way more than they have this year. Put differently, I’m surprised the Magic aren’t competing with upper-echelon teams like the Bulls or the Heat (preseason).
Nowell: At this point, I’d say the team has stylistically inverted my expectations. I might have predicted fairly similar results record-wise, but I would’ve expected a record built on defense and making do with an average offense. The opposite has been true.
Scribbins: Easily the 3-0 West Coast road trip. To be honest, I was shocked the team went into Portland and crushed the Blazers in the 1st half and actually hung onto the lead. Portland is a miserable place to play, but the Magic handled the situation with aplomb and provided some hope for the rest of the season.