Magic 2021 Schedule: Top Games, Updated Championship Odds and PredictionsFebruary 24, 2021
The Orlando Magic entered the 2020-21 season already needing to reinvent their game plan after Jonathan Isaac tore his ACL and meniscus during the NBA bubble.
However, the Magic's season took a further turn for the worst when starting guard Markelle Fultz tore his ACL in the first quarter of a Jan. 6 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He had knee surgery and was ruled out for the year.
As a result, rookie Cole Anthony was forced into a starting role, from where he has managed 11.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 17 starts before he was sidelined with a rib fracture.
Aaron Gordon sprained his ankle at the start of February and was ruled out for four to six weeks. Gary Clark stepped into the starting role, though not quite as valiantly as Anthony, and recorded just 3.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Their only hope, Nikola Vucevic, is averaging 23.9 points and 11.7 rebounds per game to lead the group.
It's not the start to the season the Magic imagined, but with half a year under their belt, here's a look at what they have to counter with in the second half.
Second-Half Magic Schedule Details
Second-Half Opener: March 11 at Miami Heat, 8 p.m. ET)
Championship Odds: +25000 (via FanDuel) (bet $100 to win $25,000)
Second-Half Schedule: NBA.com
Chicago Bulls (April 14)
These two teams split their first two outings of the season, with the Magic taking a 123-119 win on Feb. 5 before being decimated 118-92 the next day.
In the first outing, they were led by a historic double-double from Vucevic. His 43 points and 19 rebounds made him just the fourth player in franchise history to score 40-plus points and at least 15 rebounds in a single game, a feat accomplished by Shaquille O'Neal (12 times), Dwight Howard (four times) and his teammate Aaron Gordon, according to Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel.
Lightning doesn't strike twice, though. Vucevic was quieted in the second matchup, leading with 17 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
The Bulls are paced by Zach LaVine's 28.6 points per game, which rank him sixth in the league.
If the Magic wanted to make an astounding run to one of the play-in games for the postseason, it's likely they'd have to see off the Bulls or the Atlanta Hawks to get there. This game could be crucial in deciding the race.
Minnesota Timberwolves (May 9)
When these two teams first met on Jan. 20, Anthony was the hero with a buzzer-beater three to send the Magic to a 97-96 victory.
Minnesota held a 20-point lead at halftime, but Orlando fought back. Vucevic recorded 28 points and eight rebounds, and Evan Fournier returned after missing time with back spasms to post 24 points.
Since giving up that halftime advantage, the Timberwolves haven't fared much better, with a 6-20 record.
Still, they've forced close calls with several opponents. In an eight-game stretch dating back to Jan. 31, the Timberwolves are 1-7 but have never lost by more than the seven-point deficit they had against the Clippers on Feb. 10.
Karl-Anthony Towns is leading the way with 22.3 points and 10.9 rebounds, while Malik Beasley is equally productive with 20.4 points per game.
Minnesota was a challenge for Orlando in its first meeting, so the second matchup is a chance for the Magic to prove how far they've come since January.
Orlando was never going to contend for a championship this season with a roster that was reliant on youth.
Fultz, 22, was due to step into a bigger role once Isaac went down. While 22-year-old Mo Bamba is deep on the depth chart, it's 20-year-old Anthony who has taken the charge.
The losses of Fultz and Gordon are huge, but Anthony has shown promise since stepping in as a starter. However, any hope of the Magic making a serious stride forward has been hindered by the loss of three starters to injury.
At least Anthony will be gaining more experience than he would if Fultz was healthy, which could deepen the roster heading into next season.
Record Prediction: 29-43
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