Everybody knows that the future of the Orlando Magic is a bright one and this vision is materializing in front of the world’s eyes.

With their backs against the wall, Orlando forced a Game 7 in their first round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers with a hard-fought 103-96 win. The Cavaliers built a nine-point advantage midway through the third quarter of Game 6, but the Magic rallied back and took a one-point lead with 10:06 remaining in the fourth period off a finger roll by Cole Anthony.

Both teams then battled back-and-forth and found themselves in an 89-all tie with 4:01 left in the game before Paolo Banchero scored five straight points. Banchero’s back-to-back baskets turned out to be the ultimate turning point of the match as Orlando staved off Cleveland’s last few attempts at a comeback from then on out.


The sophomore Banchero, who made his NBA All-Star Game debut last February, wound up with 27 points, two three-pointers, eight rebounds, four assists, and a steal in 41 minutes of play. The only blemish in his line–and his game for that matter–remains his free throw shooting as he hit only seven-of-10 attempts in this match. He did make them when they mattered most though, hitting all four of his free throws in the last two minutes of the game to secure the win.

The poise and maturity that the 21-year-old Banchero showed down the stretch was quite impressive. He was more than willing to carry the Magic on his shoulders and was clearly unafraid of the big moment.

Orlando’s other young players stepped up in the moment as well.

Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs carried them for most of the night before Banchero took over late. The 22-year-old Wagner dropped 26 points, hit all 11 of his free throw attempts, and also tallied five rebounds, two assists, a steal, and two blocks in his 41 minutes. Meanwhile, Suggs recorded 22 points, six three-pointers, six rebounds, four assists, and a steal.

The efforts of these three helped the Magic withstand a 50-point outing from the Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell. Darius Garland added 21 points and Max Strus chipped in with 10 for Cleveland, yet the rest of their team was unable to provide them with the support that they needed in this potential closeout game.

Starting center Jarrett Allen, who is averaging 17 points and 13.8 rebounds in this series, missed a second consecutive game with a rib injury and his presence was sorely missed by the Cavaliers.

Game 7 in Cleveland will be a dogfight though, regardless of Allen’s availability, and no road team has won a game in this series so far which favors the Cavaliers. This Orlando team has overachieved already this season, finishing as the East’s fifth seed when most expected a play-in tournament appearance, but they have a golden opportunity to make a surprise second round appearance with just one more win.

The Magic are clearly on the right track and while it is mesmerizing to think about what lies in the coming years for them, it should not take away from their impressive performances in this run that show that they are very much ahead of schedule.