Magic, yes Magic, have edge for East’s final playoff spot

Star center Nikola Vucevic and the Magic have the inside track on the Easts final playoff seed.

If everything stays the same, the Orlando Magic will be returning to the playoffs.

The Magic (39-40) currently hold the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference, with just three games to go. They host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, visit the Boston Celtics on Sunday, then host the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.

That’s it. Win all three and the Magic are in. Win two of three and their odds are still pretty good.

“It’s still a tight race and things can change quickly, but obviously we’re in a good spot, right where we want to be,” Nikola Vucevic told reporters after the Magic’s 114-100 home win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Vucevic finished the game with 29 points and 13 rebounds, and along with first-year Magic coach Steve Clifford, can be largely credited with the franchise’s sudden rise. Vucevic is averaging 20.7 points and 12.0 boards on the season, followed by forward Aaron Gordon (15.9 points), and shooting guard Evan Fournier (14.9) and reserve wing Terrence Ross (14.6).

The Magic are battling for playoff positioning with the Brooklyn Nets (also 39-40), as well as the Detroit Pistons (39-39), Miami Heat (38-40) and now long-shot Hornets (36-42). But as Vucevic indicated, the Magic are in the driver’s seat, a good spot, and if they keep going like this, will finally experience the postseason once again.