The five worst teams in the Eastern Conference are continuing their losing ways in the second half of the season with an 0-16 clip. The Orlando Magic (13-26) lead the bottom feeders with eight losses in a row, and their losing streak could extend to double digits with seven out of their next eight games coming against winning teams. Meanwhile, pretty much everyone on the Magic is available for swaps, including All-Star Nikola Vucevic, with the trade deadline approaching.
It’s a battle of the haves vs the have-nots in the Eastern Conference. Six out of the top seven teams in the East won at least four games in a row. None of them lost a game since the All-Star break.
Meanwhile, the have-nots are getting stomped.
The Detroit Pistons (10-29) are the worst team in the East. The Pistons are riding a four-game skid, including three in a row since the All-Star break.
The Cleveland Cavs (14-25) ended a 10-game losing streak with four wins in a row. Then, they lost four straight, including three in a row since the break.
The Washington Wizards (14-24) showed a glimpse of competence at the end of the first half, but shot themselves in the foot and dropped four in a row since the start of the second half of the season.
The Toronto Raptors (17-22) lost five in a row since they crawled back to an even .500 at 17-17.
Magic Skid at 8
The Magic went off the rails early in the season when they lost Markelle Fultz to a season-ending injury. Since then, the Magic are 17-24 without Fultz in the lineup. The Magic were decimated with injuries in the first half. It seems like they’ve yet to have the right line up on the floor because someone is always heading to the IL.
The Magic headed into the All-star break on a five-game losing streak. The vibe in Orlando didn’t improve after the restart, and the Magic dropped three games, extending their losing streak to eight and counting. The Magic averaged only 108.8 ppg during the current skid, which is an up-tick from their season average. The Magic have the second-worst offense in the league, averaging 104.6 ppg.
Their defense vastly improved since the break. They allow 111.7 ppg this season, but only allowed 105.6 ppg in the last three losses.
Coming into the second half, it’s been difficult for the banged-up Magic to focus on winning basketball games instead of paying attention to various NBA trade rumors.
Magic Trade Alert: Fire Sale in Orlando
Chris Mannix from SI reported that the entire Orlando Magic team, aside from Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, are open to trade talks. That’s a wide berth. All-star Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Mo Bomba were all mentioned in trade rumors before the All-Star break. With the trade deadline approaching, everyone aside from Fultz and Isaac are for sale to the highest bidder.
Vucevic offers up the biggest impact as a center with outside touch. As an All-Star again this season, Vucevic averages 25 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. The big man is the lone bright spot in an ugly season in Orlando.
“It feels like you’re looking at the modern-day Dirk Nowitzki,” Miami Heat coach Erik Spolestra said about Vucevic.
The Boston Celtics were linked to Vucevic in trade rumors. They need to bolster their front line if they expect to compete with the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, or Philly 76ers for the Eastern Conference crown.
Both the Knicks and Lakers eyed Bomba. The Lakers could utilize Vucevic if they expect that Anthony Davis will miss more time. The question is, can they afford him?
On Deck: Knicks, Nets, Boston
If the Magic aren’t vigilant, they could lose their next eight games in a row and double their losing streak to 16 games.
The Magic play a tough away/home back-to-back this week. They fly up to New York City to battle Julius Randle and the New York Knicks (20-21) at MSG on Thursday. On Friday, they return to Orlando to host the Brooklyn Nets (27-13).
The Knicks lost two games in a row and slipped under .500, yet still occupy the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks offer up the best chance for the Magic to end their losing streak.
On Sunday, the Magic hit the road again to play the Boston Celtics (20-19). Next week, the Magic host three tough Western Conference teams with the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, and Portland Trail Blazers all coming to town.
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