The Orlando Magic have secured their spot in the NBA playoffs for the first time since the 2020 season, overcoming the Milwaukee Bucks with a commanding 113-88 victory on Sunday afternoon. This win, ending a three-game skid, helped Paolo Banchero and the Magic lock down the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, finishing the regular season with a record of 47-35.

Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner shine as Magic secure playoff spot

Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner (22) dunks during the second half against the Milwaukee Bucks at KIA Center.
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Paolo Banchero spearheaded the Magic’s efforts with a stellar performance, ending the game with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists, earning his 30th career double-double. Franz Wagner also made significant contributions with 25 points, five rebounds, and three steals, indicating the duo's readiness for the playoff challenges ahead.

“It means a lot. I think we all expected it after last year, we felt like we were good enough to make that jump into this year. So, it was just a team-wide expectation and we’re sitting here now, so I think we’re all proud,” Banchero said, reflecting on the team's journey to the playoffs.

Coach Jamahl Mosley highlighted Banchero’s critical role in the team’s success.

“He’s special. I’ll keep saying it over and over again. The young man is special because of the way he just wants to win, finding ways to win, whatever that looks like.” Mosley continued. “I talked to him at one of the points and just saying, I’m going to keep you going and let him go in that fourth quarter, which we hadn’t done and he accepts it, wants it, and is going to try and do the right thing throughout the game.”

Jonathan Isaac steps up in crucial game, bolsters Magic's defense

Jonathan Isaac, making his second start of the season, played a key role in the victory. Announced as a starter just before the game, Isaac’s impact was felt immediately, especially during the Magic's impressive 25-12 run in the second quarter.

“It came up yesterday. I think Dell (Wendell Carter Jr.) had been struggling with his back, he had to come out the game before. We had a practice and coach told me I’d be starting,” Isaac revealed about the sudden change in the starting lineup.

Isaac’s defensive prowess was on full display as he contributed to holding the Bucks scoreless over a seven-minute stretch in the second quarter. He finished the game with 10 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks over 26 minutes.

“I feel fantastic. I feel like I’m in a really good place, so I just keep moving forward with it,” Isaac said, expressing his physical readiness for the playoffs.

Magic poised for playoff return with renewed energy and team unity

Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley shouts to the court during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at KIA Center.
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Magic are poised to challenge the fourth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, with the first-round matchup scheduled for either April 20 or April 21. Jonathan Isaac highlighted the team's fresh energy and evolution, noting a significantly different atmosphere as they head back into postseason action since their last run in 2020.

“It definitely feels different. I think just the energy, the excitement with these guys. It feels pretty darn good right now. So, I’ll take this one,” Isaac added.

Jamahl Mosley concluded with high praise for his team's performance.

“So proud of them. There’s not really a lot of words for it. You talk about a group who has been up and down, battled back resiliently. 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,” Mosley said.

With a dynamic mix of young talents such as Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, alongside the seasoned leadership of veterans like Jonathan Isaac and Joe Ingles, the Magic are well-prepared to make a significant impact in their upcoming playoff journey against the fourth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers.