Markelle Fultz, Franz Wagner, Jonathan Isaac

Orlando Magic Can Punch Their Ticket to the Playoffs with a Win Over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday

Dan Savage
Director of Digital News

ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic have excelled at home throughout their 2023-24 campaign.

They have the third-best home record in the Eastern Conference and have gone a perfect 18-0 against sub-.500 teams within the friendly confines of the Kia Center this season.

Now, with its postseason future in the balance, Orlando needs the support of those who bleed blue and white more than ever.

The Magic (46-35), who remain in control of their postseason destiny, will look to punch their ticket to the playoffs with the support of their home crowd behind them when they face the Milwaukee Bucks (49-32) in their regular season finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Kia Center.

“It’ll be great to play in front of our home fans,” said Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley, whose team simply needs to win on Sunday to claim a playoff berth and avoid the play-in tournament. “We control our destiny in this situation. So, the way in which we have to play, the focus in which we have to have, attention to detail, and how we start games and how we finish games are (all) going to be very important.”

Orlando is in desperate need of some home cooking after going 0-3 on its most recent road trip. Those three contests all came against formidable foes. The Houston Rockets were the hottest team in the league in March and were fueled by their home finale. The Bucks hold the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. And the Philadelphia 76ers have won seven straight and are a different team since reigning MVP Joel Embiid has returned to their lineup.

Still, the Magic’s pathway to the playoffs – not to mention the teams they’ll face once they get there – won’t get any easier as the Bucks once again stand in their way. However, this time around they’ll have the support of the City Beautiful behind them.

“(It’s a) pretty cool scenario,” said Magic forward Franz Wagner, who made his return after missing two games with a sprained right ankle. “We’re definitely looking forward to it and it should be a fun game on Sunday. Obviously, it’s great to go back home. It’s always a little more fun at home.”

Orlando will be looking for a better showing against Milwaukee than the one it had in their meeting this past Wednesday. In that outing, a slow start paired with 16 turnovers that led to 27 Bucks points were too much to overcome in a 117-99 defeat.

“We have to bounce back,” said Mosley. “(We) control our own destiny still. Understanding how we need to continue to play. One, start the game the right way. Two, take care of the basketball (and) share the basketball. Three, we have to make sure we get our defensive identity in the right way. (It’s been) three games in a row where we've given up 115-plus (points), and that's not who we are. And we’ll get back to the drawing board when it comes to how we’ve got to defend in order to (get) this thing pushed in the right direction.”

It remains to be seen how the Bucks will approach the contest. Milwaukee is still fighting for playoff positioning and the Central Division title. However, already down two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks opted to sit eight-time All-Star Damian Lillard, who had a sore left adductor, against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday. Will Milwaukee opt for rest to ensure as much postseason health as possible or will it fight for the second seed against Orlando?

IN AND OUT: Wendell Carter Jr. (back spasms) is questionable for Orlando.

For Milwaukee, Thanasis Antetokounmpo (left hamstring; soreness), MarJon Beauchamp (left ankle sprain), and Lillard are probable, while Giannis (left soleus; strain), Jaylin Galloway (right ankle; sprain), and AJ Green (left ankle; sprain) are out.

KEY STATS: Orlando can finish anywhere between fifth and eighth in the Eastern Conference depending on how Sunday’s results fall. As mentioned, they will clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Bucks. But here is a full breakdown with some help from our friends at Hardwood Paroxysm and NBA PR:

If Magic win and Pacers win and Sixers win:

5. Magic

6. Pacers

7. Sixers

8. Heat

If Magic win and Pacers win and Sixers lose:

5. Magic

6. Pacers

7. Sixers

8. Heat

If Magic win and Pacers lose and Sixers win and Heat lose:

5. Sixers

6. Magic

7. Pacers

8. Heat

If Magic win and Pacers lose and Sixers win and Heat win:

5. Sixers

6. Magic

7. Pacers

8. Heat

If Magic win and Pacers lose and Sixers lose and Heat lose:

5. Magic

6. Pacers

7. Sixers

8. Heat

If Magic win and Pacers lose and Sixers lose and Heat win:

5. Magic

6. Pacers

7. Sixers

8. Heat

If Magic lose and Pacers win and Sixers win and Heat win:

5. Pacers

6. Sixers

7. Heat

8. Magic

If Magic lose and Pacers win and Sixers win and Heat lose:

5. Pacers

6. Sixers

7. Magic

8. Heat

If Magic lose and Pacers win and Sixers lose and Heat win:

5. Pacers

6. Heat

7. Sixers

8. Magic

If Magic lose and Pacers lose and Sixers win and Heat win:

5. Sixers

6. Heat

7. Magic

8. Pacers

If Magic lose and Pacers lose and Sixers win and Heat lose:

5. Sixers

6. Magic

7. Pacers

8. Heat

If Magic lose and Pacers lose and Sixers lose and Heat lose:

5. Magic

6. Pacers

7. Sixers

8. Heat

If Magic lose and Pacers lose and Sixers lose and Heat win:

5. Heat

6. Sixers

7. Pacers

8. Magic