Mike Bianchi: Down 2-0 to Cavs, now we get to see how resilient Magic really are

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

What are you going to do about it, Orlando?

How are you going to respond, Magic?

That’s what your fans want to know today after Monday night’s 96-86 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2 of this Eastern Conference playoff series.

The Cavaliers did what they had to during the first two playoff games. They held serve on their home court and took a 2-0 lead in the series.

Now it’s your turn, Magic.

Now you get to show us what type of team you really and truly are.

Let’s go, Orlando.

You have to be better than you showed during these first two games.

Many Orlando fans watching Game 2 on Spectrum cable didn’t see the first several minutes of the contest, which is just as well. By the time the Spectrum/Bally Sports Florida technical difficulties were fixed, the Magic had missed 10 of their first 11 3-point shots and point guard Jalen Suggs had to be helped off the floor with a left knee injury. The Magic trailed 30-18 after the first quarter and 58-44 at the half.

Even though Suggs eventually returned, the Magic never really got much closer as their shooting woes from Game 1 continued. The Magic hit 8-of-37 treys (21.6 percent) in Game 1 and made only 9-of-35 (25.7 percent) in Game 2.

With shooting like that, it’s going to be arduously difficult to win this series. The success rate for an NBA team to come back and win a series after dropping the first two games is stunningly bad. Of the 313 times that a team has gone down 0-2 in a seven-game series in NBA history, the team trailing has come back to win the series just 27 times (8.6 percent).

However, the Magic can take solace in the fact that in 22 of those 27 occasions, it was the road team that fell behind 0-2 and rallied to win the series. Even more ammunition for the Magic: Six teams have come back from 0-2 deficits in the last three seasons.

In other words, it CAN be done, but the Magic are going to have to prove that they are who they think they are. All season long, they have talked about their resilience, their toughness and their ability to overcome a variety of different obstacles such as injuries, inexperience and offensive deficiencies.

If ever there was a time to show their determination and perseverance and their unwavering belief in each other, now is that time. Their most daunting obstacle obviously is the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the second-highest hurdle they must overcome is their own self-doubt.

It becomes much harder to believe in yourself when you’re down 0-2 and haven’t led even once in the first two games. The skeptics become more plentiful and the chorus of criticism grows louder. These are the moments when the true character of a team is revealed.

Let’s face it, there are not a whole lot of believers in this Magic team right now. Hell, there weren’t a whole lot of believers in this team even before they fell behind 0-2. It’s no secret that Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff pulled his starters in the final game of the regular season and seemingly tanked the game against the lowly Charlotte Hornets to assure his team would face the Magic in the first round of playoffs.

Moreover, when the regular season was over, the Vegas betting odds on the No. 5-seeded Magic to win the championship were third from the bottom among 20 playoff and play-in teams. The only two teams below the Magic were the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls, who were both eliminated in the play-in tournament.

In other words, the Magic, like the late, great comedian Rodney Dangerfield, get no respect.

Ain’t that right, Rodney?


“When I was a kid, my parents moved a lot,” Rodney once said. “But I always found them.”

Now it’s the Magic who are the unwanted kids in the playoffs and they must find themselves. They’re down 0-2 and most everybody is counting them out.

Let’s go, Orlando.

You can either give up or rise up. You can either look at this as a setback or an opportunity. Think about it: Is there a better way to get the attention of the national media and silence the naysayers than coming back and beating the Cavs?

The best teams and the greatest athletes have self-induced amnesia; they purposely forget what happened yesterday and focus on tomorrow. It’s time to forget Game 1 when the Magic scored just 83 points and hit just 32 percent from the floor, 21 percent from 3-point range and 63 percent from the foul line.

After that game, the Magic acted as if it was no big deal. Star forward Paolo Banchero pointed out that Magic were still in Game 1 up until the final minutes despite the putrid offensive performances. Suggs said, “We did everything right except make our shots.”

The came could be said about Game 2.

What are you going to do about it, Orlando?

How are you going to respond, Magic?

The Cavaliers did what they had to during the first two playoff games. They held serve on their home court and took a 2-0 lead in the series.

Now it’s your turn.

Let’s go, Orlando.

You’re down and many are counting you out.

What’s it going to be?

A harbinger of defeat?

Or an opportunity for redemption?


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