Magic beat Bucks 113-88 to clinch fifth playoff spot

ORLANDO, FL – The Orlando Magic (47-35) dominated the Milwaukee Bucks (49-33) on Sunday in a game that had high playoff seeding implications. Orlando clinched the Southeastern Division title with the win, as well as the fifth slot in the NBA Playoffs.

quarter at the Kia Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

It took a brutal battle in the final game of the season for the Magic to regain their defensive prowess and render the now third-seeded Bucks helpless.

Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley switched up his starting lineup and inserted defensive star Jonathan Isaac due to Wendell Carter Jr.’s recent bout with back spasms.

Isaac proved to be a strong defensive presence in the middle, blocking three shots that made the Bucks think twice before challenging him, often opting for quick passes instead.

Isaac scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but his presence spoke volumes.

In contrast to the 117-99 defeat in Milwaukee, Orlando withstood the Bucks’ opening push, resulting in a 30-22 first-quarter lead, and bolstered their defensive stance.

In the second quarter, Orlando held the Bucks to just 12 points.

Orlando, Florida, USA, April 14, 2024, Milwaukee Bucks guard Patrick Beverley #21 gets fouled by Jalen Suggs #4 at the Kia Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Orlando pressed Damian Lillard full-court for the majority of the game, led by either Gary Harris or Markelle Fultz, and managed to swipe, snatch, and claw at the ball at every opportunity.

Orlando made 12 steals in the game, contributing to the Bucks’ 18 turnovers, which led to 27 Magic points.

The Magic scored 54 points in the paint compared to the Bucks’ 32, and the Magic bench outscored the Bucks 45-25. The Bucks had zero fast-break points.

The Orlando crowd caught playoff fever as their team finally delivered on the promise of the year’s play with a solid, playoff-like performance when the game meant so much for this year’s postseason.

Paolo Banchero led the Magic with yet another double-double, scoring 26 points and grabbing eleven rebounds, Franz Wagner scored 25, and as mentioned, Isaac scored 10 points.

Orlando was tight on the Milwaukee offense, keeping all scorers under 20 points and holding the teams to under 90 points.

Orlando, Florida, USA, April 14, 2024, Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lilard #0 attempt to score as Jonathan Isaac #1 tries to block at the Kia Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Bobby Portis and Khris Middleton both scored 17 points, while Lillard scored 16 points in the game and shot zero for four from the three-point line, a significant contrast from the 29 points he put on the Magic in their last game.

Milwaukee Head Coach Doc Rivers wasn’t happy with the looks that the team had.

“I thought defensively, they were great,” said Rivers. “I didn’t like a lot of our looks. I didn’t like a lot of our possessions, you know, and that’s when we tried to get them in the right spot. But we didn’t run a very good offensive game tonight.”

Mosley was naturally proud of his team but grateful for Orlando’s fan base as well.

Orlando, Florida, USA, April 14, 2024, Orlando Magic’s Markelle Fultz #20 celebrate in the second half at the Kia Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

“So proud, there’s not really a lot of words for it,” said Mosley. “You talk about a group who has been up and down, battled back, resilient. We say all the words, all the cliché words that we want, but they showed it. They proved it. Big stakes, they took it in their own hands and played together, played the right way. Our fans were freaking amazing, like incredible. Just our fan base, our support for this group, it’s just something they should be proud of and it’s something they should enjoy. They should embrace who they are as a group and not shy away from it.”

The Magic will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. The NBA play-in tournament begins on April 16th, and the first round of the playoffs begin on April 20th.

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