This evening, the Orlando Magic embark on arguably the toughest stretch of their season; Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel points out that six of Orlando's next nine opponents currently boast a .650 won-lost record or better.
The 10-11 Portland Trail Blazers come up first, as they'll host the Magic tonight at the Rose Garden. Tomorrow night, Orlando visits the Utah Jazz in a tough back-to-back which entails flying back across a time zone. After a day off, they draw the L.A. Clippers on Sunday night, and then fly back across a time zone again for a game in Denver against the Nuggets, the final game of their road trip. That night, December 14th, will also mark the on-court debut of the newest addition to their wardrobe: a black alternate uniform.
At that point, Orlando will have a three-day break before its next game, which it'll likely need. A Saturday contest against the lottery-bound Philadelphia 76ers awaits, followed by a more demanding stretch comprised of a visit to the Atlanta Hawks (December 20th) and home dates against the Dallas Mavericks (December 21st), San Antonio Spurs (December 23rd), and Boston Celtics (December 25th).
And the Magic aren't exactly entering this stretch on a high note, having lost two straight games for just the second time this season. True enough, the stomach flu which sidelined four players for at least two games each last week has subsided, but the slate over the next two weeks will indeed test the team's mettle; it can't just ease back into the flow.
I'm writing simply to gauge Magic fan expectation for the forthcoming nine games. Please vote in the poll, which closes before tonight's tipoff, and explain your choice in the comments.
In case you don't find the narrative evaluation above helpful, I've made a table about the Magic's opponents during this part of their schedule below the jump. Note the ascending level of difficulty for Orlando after the Philadelphia game.
|Date||Opponent||Opponent Record||Opponent Avg. Scoring Differential|
|9 Dec.||@ Portland Trail Blazers||10-11||-0.4|
|10 Dec.||@ Utah Jazz||16-7||+3.7|
|12 Dec.||@ L.A. Clippers||5-18||-6.0|
|14 Dec.||@ Denver Nuggets||13-8||+1.8|
|18 Dec.||vs. Philadelphia 76ers||7-14||-0.5|
|20 Dec.||@ Atlanta Hawks||15-8||+3.0|
|21 Dec.||vs. Dallas Mavericks||17-4||+5.8|
|23 Dec.||vs. San Antonio Spurs||18-3||+9.3|
|25 Dec.||vs. Boston Celtics||17-4||+9.1|