The NBA released its schedule yesterday, and to much fanfare. In this harsh and unforgiving period of summer in which the biggest NBA news is the Bobcats signing Shannon Brown, ANYTHING will do.
That statement especially pertains to the Magic, who have rounded out much of their roster and, barring a tune-up trade, are just biding their time for the season to begin. Now we know when it'll begin (October 29th) ad where (in Atlanta). What follows the jump is 3QC's take on the Magic's 2008/2009 schedule, which you can view here.
Aaaand we're back.
The First Month: October/November
The NBA schedule-makers gifted the Magic a fairly easy early-season schedule. Of the 17 games on the docket, only 8 take place against probable playoff teams. Additionally, 6 of the team's first 7 games take place at Amway Arena. The Magic will play three nationally televised games in November: Thursday the 6th versus the 76ers on TNT, Wednesday the 26th at the 76ers on ESPN, and Thursday the 27th at the Wizards on TNT. Back-to-back, nationally televised games?! Cool!
The Winter of our Discontent: December
The NBA giveth, the NBA taketh away. The Magic will indeed have to take advantage of their charitable early schedule, because December is going to be a bear. They open the month at Boston to face the World-Champion Celtics, but get a bit of a breather, playing their next three games versus Minnesota, versus (the) Oklahoma City (THUNDER), and at the L.A. Clippers.
After that, the road gets bumpy. Really bumpy. Those-damned-brick-roads-all-over-Winter-Park bumpy.
In the period spanning Tuesday the 9th to Thursday the 25th, the Magic will play 8 games, each of which against a possible 50-win team. Just take a look:
- Tuesday, December 9th: @ Portland (second night of back-to-back with L.A. Clippers)
- Friday, December 12th: @ Phoenix
- Saturday, December 13th: @ Utah
- Monday, December 15th: @ Golden State
- Thursday, December 18th: versus San Antonio
- Saturday, December 20th: versus L.A. Lakers
- Monday, December 22nd: versus Golden State
- Thursday, December 25th: versus New Orleans
If the Magic can split that 8-game stretch, I'll be happy. Brutal.
Oddly enough, the Magic will spend New Year's Eve 2008 just like they spent New Year's Eve 2007: in Chicago to face the Bulls in a matinee.
Recovery Time (?): January
The first five games of January worry me. Each comes against a team that we are, frankly, better than. And I can imagine us losing each one just as easily as I can imagine us winning each one. The Magic will need to make a strong push this month, because it contains a four-game, West-coast swing in its middle: At San Antonio, at Sacramento, at the L.A. Lakers, and at Denver. Oh, and the Celtics await the Magic in Orlando when they return.
Mid-Season Doldrums: February
Ordinarily, I'd feel good about the Magic playing a schedule this easy in February. But the team might be poised for a letdown as it approaches the All-Star break. The good news is that New Orleans and Detroit are the only truly formidable teams the Magic play, and the better news is that both those games take place after the break.
The Home Stretch: March and April
It's bad enough that the Magic have to play a road back-to-back set at Boston and at Detroit, but it's even worse that neither of those games is nationally televised. If you're going to throw the team to the wolves (not the Timberwolves) like that, NBA schedule-makers, the least you could do is throw a bone to its fans. Golly.
I do not relish the Friday the 13th matchup at Washington. Gilbert Arenas probably gets special powers or something on days like that. I predict he'll sink at least eight three-pointers. Sounds about right.
I love the end of March, though. Milwaukee twice, New York twice, Miami once, with Boston as the only threat.April is where it gets hairy again. The teams aren't so tough, but the Magic will play nine games in a fifteen-day span which includes three sets of back-to-backs. HOWEVER, the Magic close out the season with five games against teams which well finished below .500 last season.
One last note: the Magic lucked-out a bit with their matchups against non-divisional conference opponents. They get four games against Boston, Chicago, Indiana, Milwaukee, Toronto, and New York... which means only three games against Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, and New Jersey.