With a 31-18 record while playing elite basketball, it is a pretty safe assumption the Orlando Magic will be returning to the NBA playoffs come April. Sans a catastrophic breakdown, this will be the sixth time O-Town acquires a playoff berth in the Dwight Howard era.
Nonetheless, there is still time in the regular season to destroy the high seeding the Orlando Magic have worked all season to obtain. With games against the Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks, the Magic must avoid falling asleep in the next 17 games.
So, here are the four critical games the Magic must win to gain confidence for the playoffs.
What team has had more drama than the New York Knicks? From Carmelo Anthony's shooting woes to Mike D'Antoni's firing to even "Linsanity," the Knicks' struggles have been on full display this season.
However, they are still a formidable opponent and a threat to be taken seriously if they stave off the Milwaukee Bucks and earn a playoff spot.
A win versus New York on their court would definitely be beneficial for the Orlando Magic, as it would send a message to a possible first-round opponent.
The Denver Nuggets are arguably the deepest team in the NBA. Without a true superstar, their depth has become the team's biggest strength against opponents. Despite a rough season injury-wise, the Nuggets have held it together due to their strong bench.
Going up against another deep roster, the Denver Nuggets' limits will definitely be pushed against the Orlando Magic.
This is a must-win game for Orlando due to the potential confidence gained from beating a top-tier Western Conference squad.
What a surprise Philadelphia has been this season.
After a plethora of rough years after the Allen Iverson era, the 76ers have finally restored themselves to prominence.
This season, the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers have split the season series. So a win in Philadelphia against All-Star Andre Iguodala the 76ers would do wonders for the Magic's confidence.
After all, the 76ers' are another squad that may stand in the way of Orlando's title aspirations.
How great would a win right before the playoffs against the team that eliminated you last year be?
Well, that might just be the case when Orlando hosts Atlanta on Friday, April 15.
This season, the Atlanta Hawks have one both matchups against the Orlando Magic. Hawks forward Josh Smith has been the major reason for Atlanta's success, as the 6'9" forward is too quick for opposing Magic power forwards Glen Davis and Ryan Anderson.
A win would absolutely build confidence for the Magic organization, as last year's defeat definitely is still in their heads.