The playoff planning has officially begun.
With Tuesday's victory over Milwaukee, coupled with Atlanta's loss to San Antonio, the Orlando Magic have secured the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, guaranteeing them home-court advantage in the first round.
The last four games in the regular season, which continues Wednesday in Charlotte, will mean very little.
"It's a tight-rope we have to walk," said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. "I would rather be playing for something at this point, but we're fatigued and banged up, so we'll have the chance to get well again."
The Magic (49-29) will be facing the Hawks (44-34) in the first round. The Hawks, who were swept by the Magic in the second round last season, lost to the Hawks in three of four games this season.
The Magic have not played well lately. They beat Charlotte and Milwaukee, while losing to Atlanta and Toronto. They were not impressive in any of their last four games.
"We can't play like this and expect to win a playoff game," Van Gundy said. "You're just not going to win in the playoffs like this."
While Van Gundy has insisted the Magic must improve, he also is concerned with resting up his regulars, which is what center Dwight Howard has been suggesting.
"We have to continue to get better," he said. "We'll see what happens now."
In the past two seasons, the Magic lost in the NBA Finals to the Lakers and lost in the Eastern Conference final to Boston, respectively. They were hoping to contend for a championship this season but they have looked like anything but contenders lately.
MAGIC 78, BUCKS 72: Jameer Nelson came up big at the end, breaking a late-game tie with a 3-point shot, then making a key steal a few seconds later, leading the Magic to a victory that clinched the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Nelson finished with 17 points and five steals, outplaying Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings. Dwight Howard had 18 points and 17 rebounds. The Magic opened the game by scoring the first 14 points. They were dreadful, though, through much of the game, committing 21 turnovers and hitting only two of 21 shots from 3-point range.
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