The Orlando Magic haven’t taken the floor for a playoff game since Barack Obama’s first term in the White House. The Dwight Howard-led Magic were knocked out of the playoffs in round one by the Indiana Pacers back in 2012, and since then, the team has been stuck in basketball’s wilderness, aimlessly searching for a postseason berth that has never came around.
This year’s Orlando squad finally made it back, earning a bid as the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed. Despite traveling to the hostile Scotiabank Arena to take on the second-seeded Toronto Raptors, the Magic came to play, stunning Toronto, 104-101.
Orlando was led by veteran point guard D.J. Augustin, who hadn’t played in a postseason game since 2014. Augustin tied Kawhi Leonard for a game-high in points, dropping 25 on 9-for-13 shooting. He also hit the biggest shot of the game, a cold-blooded triple when the game was tied at 101 to put the Magic up by three with just over three seconds remaining.
Outside of Augustin, it was a team-wide effort for the Magic on the offensive side of the ball. Seven players scored in double-digits, and outside of Augustin, only Evan Fournier (16 points) scored more than 11. A Fournier miss also happened to lead to perhaps the most impressive play of the game — his shot was blocked by Serge Ibaka, but Khem Birch was right there to secure the miss while it was on the way down and give us the coolest inadvertent alley-oop you’ll see.
As for Toronto, the loss was the latest in what might be the weirdest curse in all of basketball. They are damn near incapable of winning a Game 1 for some reason, as their record in such games is jaw-dropping.
Still, there were reasons for optimism. Leonard had 25, while Pascal Siakam had 24 points and nine rebounds. Leonard his back-to-back gigantic shots down the stretch — a three to tie things up at 99 and a jumper over Aaron Gordon to put the team ahead by two on the following possession — while Siakam once again showed that he’s a two-way nightmare, someone whose tenacity manifests itself on both ends of the floor.
Toronto could really, really use a big night from Kyle Lowry going forward. He scored zero points on 0-for-7 shooting, but he impacted the game with his distribution (eight assists) and rebounding (seven boards). Additionally, he was +11 in 34 minutes, making him the only Raptors starter with a positive +/-.
Still, the story of the night is Orlando, which joined the Brooklyn Nets in stealing home court away from a higher-seeded team. Magic fans have been waiting a long time to see their team get back to the postseason, and when the team finally got there, they made sure to put forth a performance that may have made it all worth the wait.