Nobody is more optimistic about the Magic than we are over on In the Zone. Specifically I (Stefan) have been the most ardent and unrealistically and idealistically, expectant fan. I've made some robust predictions and been genuinely excited to watch these boys play ball. And let me be clear, NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
After an embarrassing loss to the Nets where the team squandered a 19pt halftime lead, then back-to-back beatings by the Bucks, a loss tonight against the Charlotte Hornets may signify it's time to wave the white flag. Don't get me wrong, we're not giving up on the team. But with a loss tonight, you can surely take the holidays off and check back in after the all star break.
Why do I say this? A couple reasons.
This team isn't going anywhere fast. Bulls 76ers, Nuggets, Warriors, Lakers, Hawks, Heat, Nets, Raptors... ANOTHER back to back against the Bucks, plus the Celtics, Wizards, Clippers, and more.
The next couple months are going to be LONG and painful. And while we will still see development, we'll still see exciting play on some nights, and there may even be a few surprise wins, there I don't expect to see any significant change to this team's ability to produce W's between now and february.
All-Star weekend happens directly after the superbowl, so we're looking at a little less than 40 games between now and then. If the Magic keep there exact same win loss ratio, we can expect about 10 or 12 wins. Enjoy your holidays fam!
We shouldn't expect Fultz or Isaac back before the all-star break. Word around the practice court has been that we won't see the two guys we've been waiting on anytime soon. Okeke recently returned and has had to find himself on the team once again. But from what we've heard, Fultz and Isaac won't be coming back anytime soon. And we can't blame the team for stretching this out.
Why bring back these two guys earlier than you need to? If you really believe Fultz and Isaac make a big difference in the ability of this team to be a contender, then you're going to want to give them as much time as you can. And honestly, bringing them back in December or January, doesn't make a huge difference. Like Okeke, they will have to readjust to who this team has become in their absence, ESPECIALLY Markelle Fultz.
LET'S BE HONEST...
We knew what this season was going to be. As optimistic as I was when I declared the Magic can take the final play-in spot for the playoffs, I still understood this would be a long, grimey season. I still hold out hope for that last spot, but it's look much more like it's time to start paying attention to Duke, UNC, Gonzaga, and Kentucky basketball. So if that Magic take another loss tonight, enjoy your holidays.
Spend time with your family for Thanksgiving.
Enjoy some college bowl season and have a great Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza.
Go all out for the New Year's Eve and dive head first into some NFL Playoffs.
Then wash it all down with a Ravens Super Bowl win and you'll be ready to jump right back into some newly exciting Magic basketball. I promise it'll be great!