The Orlando Magic are currently on a four-city Western Conference road trip. Expectations could be described as mixed.
Monday night’s first stop was Oakland, California and a rematch with the Golden State Warriors. It is safe to admit that expectation were low going into that game, for many reasons.
First, the Warriors have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and the Magic do not. Second, Golden State was humiliated the day before by the Los Angeles Lakers by 17 points.
That would be the same Lakers who entered the game with a 12-51 record. It is safe to say the Warriors were not “up” for the game and the results proved it. They would not allow a repeat performance.
The Magic led the game early, then fell back and trailed by double digits for most of the game. After trailing by 17 points entering the fourth quarter, Orlando actually kept fighting and trailed only 111-109 with 1:13 remaining.
Golden State held on to win, 119-113. Curry’s 41 points means he averaged 46 points against Orlando in the two-game season sweep.
Tonight, the expectations are different. The Magic are favored to beat Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at the Staples Center.
That does not mean they will, but a team that is 38 games under .500 does not normally put together consecutive high-activity games. Despite playing the second half of back-to-back games, Orlando (27-35) should expect to win such games if they play with sufficient intensity.
It is common for cellar-dwelling teams pulling off big upsets to resort to their true selves the next game. A strong effort by the Magic should return Los Angeles to their losing ways.
The final two games of the trip present mixed expectations. Orlando will have two days off before heading to Sacramento to face the 25-37 Kings on Friday.
Sacramento will be returning home after a five-game eastern road trip. They play in Cleveland on Wednesday night.
The Kings are in turmoil at the moment and their best efforts were mainly offered earlier in the season. Rumors of the firing of coach George Karl are rampant. Sacramento has one of the best big men in the game in DeMarcus Cousins, but this is a winnable game.
Orlando’s road trip concludes on Saturday against the formerly surging Portland Trail Blazers. Portland won nine of 12 games before dropping their last three on a six game eastern road trip to fall to 33-31.
This would not be a game of high expectations for two reasons. Although a win is possible, the Blazers are lethal at home and have one of the game’s top guards in Damian Lillard.
Again, it would be the second game of a back-to-back. For those who can stay up, it will be interesting to see if Victor Oladipo can have any success guarding Lillard.
Expectations of the Magic’s making the playoffs are dwindling. A 2-2 record on this road trip would go a long way toward keeping them alive.
Going 0-4 would likely have them looking toward the NBA draft.