Can the Magic make a second-half playoff run?
Let's analyze the remainder of the Magic schedule. They have 31 games remaining, 15 at home (only 4 of which are against teams over .500), and 16 games on the road (9 of which are against teams at or above .500). So only 13 of their remaining games are against teams at or above .500.
Let's assume for the sake of argument that it will take a 41-41 record to make the playoffs (last year's 8th place team, NJ, had a 42-40 record). That means the Magic would have to finish 22-9 to finish at .500 and the last playoff spot. Certainly a tall order to ask of the Magic, but not impossible, considering they are just 5 1/2 games out with 31 games left.
The Magic have a rough 5 game west coast trip from 2/28-3/6, where they will be the underdog in all 5 games. But between 3/15-3/29, the Magic play 9 games in a row against sub .500 teams (4 home, 5 road). Between 3/31 and 4/13, they have to play DAL, DET, MIA, and SA.
Realistically, I don't think the Magic will make the playoffs, but I'm not giving up hope until they are mathematically eliminated. It certainly promises to be an interesting second half for the Magic, with the Darko trade and the impending trade of Francis. The return to health of GHill and hopefully JNelson will improve the Magic.
My prediction... the Magic will finish with around 35 wins, while CHI, with their nice young talent coming around, will overtake PHI for the last playoff spot. On April 20th, we'll see if I'm right.