The less said about the season the Orlando Magic are having, the better.
The team have won just once in their last 10 games and find themselves rapidly sinking to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings – just one spot ahead of the hapless Detroit Pistons.
This, let us not forget, is a franchise that had playoff ambitions heading into the season and possess an All-Star big man in the rather hefty form of Nikola Vucevic.
Sure, the Magic have been unfortunate with injuries – losing both Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac for the entire season – but this is an experienced roster capable of finishing much higher in the standings.
Boston aren’t faring much better either. While they are eighth in the East with a 20-20 record, the Celtics also had much higher hopes for the campaign.
They have two All-Stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, as well as a 4x former All-Star in point guard Kemba Walker. The talent is there. The performances, however, are not.
It would be a monumental shock were the Celtics not to finish in the top 10 places in the Eastern Conference and at the very least make the play-in tournament. However, this is a franchise that hoped to be fighting it out with the Bucks, Sixers, Nets and Heat to reach the NBA Finals. As it stands, they are nowhere near that level.
Nothing demonstrated that more effectively than their loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers (15-25, 12th in East) on Wednesday night.
This is a must win game for both teams.
For the Magic it’s the opportunity to make a late push for the post-season. The trade deadline is fast approaching and the likes of Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier could all be moved on to contenders so Orlando can instead build for the future. That core has been together for a number of years, it’s now or never, quickly looking like ‘never’.
For the Celtics it’s an opportunity to improve both form and morale against a team they should comfortably be beating. Lose this one and the wheels really could start to come off for Brad Stevens’ team, as the likes of the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls continue to make ground.
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