The Orlando Magic are set for a defining moment in their season as they head into the final day of the NBA regular season before the playoffs begin. The team, currently holding a 46-35 record after a three-game losing streak including a recent 123-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, remains in the fifth seed of the Eastern Conference. This position was preserved thanks to the Cleveland Cavaliers defeating the Indiana Pacers, a crucial outcome that kept the Pacers from overtaking them in the standings.

The stakes couldn't be higher as the Magic prepare for a crucial showdown against the Milwaukee Bucks at 1:00 PM ET on Sunday. This game is not only pivotal for securing their place in the playoffs but also for potentially improving their seeding. A victory over the Bucks would ensure that Orlando finishes no lower than the sixth seed. This is particularly crucial as it positions them to potentially avoid a challenging second-round matchup against the league-leading Boston Celtics, who have dominated the season with a 63-18 record, should the Magic advance past the first round, maintaining momentum into the postseason.

Magic's path to a playoff berth, avoiding the play-in tournament scenarios

Achieving the sixth seed requires the Magic to defeat the Bucks, while simultaneously hoping for a Philadelphia 76ers win over the Brooklyn Nets. However, if Orlando fails to secure a victory, their playoff fate could hinge on other teams' outcomes. Specifically, they would need the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks to defeat the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat, respectively, to maintain a favorable playoff position.

To hold onto the fifth seed, the Magic have several scenarios: a win with an accompanying Pacers victory would suffice, or alternatively, wins by both the Hawks and Raptors. Should Orlando fall to the Bucks, they would then need the Hawks, Raptors, and Brooklyn Nets to win their respective games to avoid slipping in the standings.

The most concerning scenario for the Magic would be a loss to the Bucks combined with victories from their close competitors — the 76ers, Pacers, and Heat — which would push Orlando into the precarious seventh or eighth seed, thereby necessitating their participation in the play-in tournament.

Jamahl Mosley stresses focus ahead of crucial playoff-determining match against the Bucks

Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley reacts to a call during the second half against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Reflecting on the challenges highlighted by a recent loss to the Bucks, Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley emphasized the team's need for resilience and focus. “We control what we can control…we’ve got to be very focused and intentional about the way we go about our business,” Mosley said, underscoring the critical nature of maintaining a strategic approach and strong mindset in high-pressure situations.

As the Magic approach Sunday’s game, they are acutely aware of the implications it carries. A win not only marks their return to the NBA Playoffs for the first time since the 2020 Orlando Bubble but also provides a much-needed uplift after a tumultuous close to the regular season. With the playoff landscape hanging in the balance, Orlando’s performance against Milwaukee will be a decisive factor in shaping their postseason journey.