The Orlando Magic enjoyed a favorable schedule in the last full week of 2012, with games against the two worst teams in each conference, as well as a home date with the overachieving Toronto Raptors. Instead of padding their win total, however, the Magic went 0-3 to extend their losing streak to five games and to put themselves at 12-18 just as their schedule gets tough again.
Before looking ahead to the Magic's schedule for the week ahead, Orlando Pinstriped Post wishes to recognize JW10 for winning the third of OPP's weekly prediction contests. Visit OPP on the day of each game to enter.
And now the schedule. All times listed are Eastern.
Monday: Magic vs. Miami Heat, 5 PM, Fox Sports Florida
Miami comes to town for the first time since becoming NBA Champions. Erik Spoelstra's bunch had won six straight games, but dropped consecutive road contests to the far inferior Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks over the weekend.
Wednesday: Magic vs. Chicago Bulls, 7 PM, Fox Sports Florida
Derrick Rose has yet to play in 2012/13, but the Bulls are rolling on regardless, owning the East's fourth-best record through Saturday. In Rose's absence, Tom Thibodeau is riding Luol Deng and Joakim Noah hard, but those two have come through in a major way.
Saturday: Magic vs. New York Knicks, 7 PM, Fox Sports Florida
The Knicks have stayed near the top of the East's standings, right there with Miami, throughout the season, benefitting from a three-point-heavy attack which punishes opponents for paying too much attention to Carmelo Anthony.
What are your predictions for the season's ninth week?