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Orlando Magic: Evaluating their 2019-20 schedule

The release of the Orlando Magic’s schedule for 2019-20 gives them a chance to start this season exactly how they finished the last one.

Monday afternoon saw the release of the Orlando Magic‘s schedule for the 2019-20 season, and with it the picture became clearer on how they can go about ensuring they make it to the playoffs again this coming season.

Surprisingly, and thankfully, there is no early game against state rivals the Miami Heat either, with the first meeting between the pair coming on New Year’s Day. In all, they will play their four games against one another between Jan. 3rd and March 4.

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Not coming up against them too soon can suit the Magic because the Heat are going to be better than last season.

The arrival of Jimmy Butler alone ensures that. Instead the Magic get a chance to duck them until the third day in 2020, and also have an opportunity to pad their record well before they get to that point.

The Magic haven’t started well throughout their rebuild, with the exception of the 2017-18 when they were 5-1 at one point. That season cratered terribly though.

This year they have a chance to post a similar record early, with the hope being that they will instead build on a strong start instead of falling away like they have in the past.

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Their fighting spirit to get to the postseason last year proof that there is more to this team than we have seen in the past. It is among head coach Steve Clifford’s most impressive pieces of work during his time with the organization.

The Magic have four out of their first six games at home, with the first (Cleveland Cavaliers) and fourth (New York Knicks) looking like winnable games.

In between that they travel to face the Atlanta Hawks and a Toronto Raptors team no longer boasting Kawhi Leonard, so it is no inconceivable to think they can start the season 4-0.

From there the Magic will face its first real test of the campaign. The remaining two home games of that six game batch come against the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets.

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Both of those franchises will believe that a trip to the conference finals is possible this season, and they will be looking to build up momentum early themselves.

Should the Magic split these two games 1-1, making a 5-1 record, they will prove that they are building nicely for the rest of the campaign. The opening four games are also an ideal time to give Markelle Fultz some run, assuming he can play.

There aren’t many better chances and slotting him next to his teammates early will ease him into running a team with playoff ambitions nicely.

Fans shouldn’t get too carried away however, as the Magic showed an astounding ability to throw away games last season that they should have won.

Had they beaten the likes of the Cavaliers, Knicks and Chicago Bulls when they were supposed to, they wouldn’t have had to have scrambled to make a late push at all.

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PRESS RELEASE: Orlando Magic’s 2019-20 regular season schedule released

Open season at Amway Center on October 23 vs. Cleveland

All local telecasts on FOX Sports Florida

Season tickets available now – call 407-89-MAGIC#MagicAboveAllpic.twitter.com/aZdJtjL776

— Orlando Magic PR (@Magic_PR) August 12, 2019

This is why they shouldn’t fear the tougher stretch of their schedule however, as they swept the Los Angeles Lakers last season, as well as picking up morale boosting wins over the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors.

Among the most testing parts of the schedule is a stretch in the middle of December, when they play the Lakers and Rockets at home over three nights.

Then they go out on a four game West coast swing (facing the New Orleans Hornets, a back-to-back with the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets, before finishing up against the Portland Trail Blazers) for a run of games that could seriously derail all of the positivity they hopefully built up until that point.

West coast trips have typically been detrimental to the Magic over the last number of years, damaging the morale of a young team and in a couple of instances, taking them from a franchise hanging on to any hope they had of being competitive and dumping them straight back into the lottery conversation.

Even more daunting, they will have to do it all over again in January, this time as they take in five games out West (Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors), before finishing up in Charlotte to take on the Hornets.

The first and last games of that particular trip in theory two wins, and they represent the chance to take some positives should the four games in between them go badly.

The end to the Magic’s schedule last season was not particularly easy, and yet they won six of their remaining eight games to make it into the playoffs.

This year, of the final eight games they play, six will be against opponents they faced around the same time last season, with the Magic play the Celtics twice during the period to close out the season.

If they can finish strong once, they are capable of doing so again against similar opposition at different stages in their own development (as well as the Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, rebuilding outfits like the Knicks and Hornets are present as well).

The longest homestand they have is five games, although seven out of eight will be played at Amway Center during that period, and it comes directly after their first road trip out West. A welcome sight.

Really the schedule hasn’t shaken out too badly for the Magic, and they will be happy with only playing 11 back-to-backs as well. The league average is 12.4 and it also represents their lowest amount in a whopping 19 seasons.

This is a great chance for an up and coming franchise to capitalize on a kinder break with their games.

About the only gripe they can have is the fact they will only be on national television once as of now. A March 4 game against the Heat in Miami. It is a shame the casual fan won’t get to see their state of the art arena or fans during the regular season.

The only national game they played to close out the last regular season took place in Charlotte against the Hornets.

Should they make the playoffs again however, and really the release of this schedule has done little to dampen those goals, then that won’t matter because they will get another chance to perform on the postseason stage.

It is about getting there first though, and a soft start should help them on their way.

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