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Musings on the Orlando Magic's 2009/10 Schedule

The Orlando Magic, along with the rest of the NBA's teams, released their 2009/10 schedule yesterday, to much fanfare. In Orlando, the big news is that the Magic will make 24 nationally televised appearances in the coming season, the highest total in franchise history, and tied with the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers for second only to the Cleveland Cavaliers (25 appearances) among all NBA teams. Magic fans can't really complain about feeling disrespected now, not after an NBA Finals appearance helped make the team nationally relevant for the first time in over a decade.

Here's the thing about these national TV appearances, though: they don't offer much in the way of variety. All 4 of the Magic's meetings with the Cavaliers will go national. Ditto for their 4 meetings apiece with Boston and the Miami Heat. Predictably, both NBA Finals rematches against the Lakers will also reach a national audience. The Dallas Mavericks are the final opponent with the distinction of having both its dates against Orlando on national TV. Indeed, 16 of the Magic's 24 "big-time" games are spread against a scant 5 teams.

After the jump, a quick look good news, bad news, alumni games, and more.

Good News:

  • The Magic will have a strong chance of padding their record early. For the first (roughly) three-eighths of the schedule--from October 28th to December 23rd--Orlando will play Boston and Cleveland once each, while completely avoiding the Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs, the other two title contenders.

  • And of the Magic's 8 games from December 14th to the 30th, 7 come within the friendly confines of the Amway Arena.

Bad News:

  • The going gets tough in January and February. The first month of the new year features 11 road games (to only 6 home games). Meanwhile, a five-day stretch in February pits the Magic against the Celtics in Boston one day before flying home to host the New Orleans Hornets, followed by a day off for Jameer Nelson's 27th birthday, followed by road games against the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland on back-to-back nights.

  • Orlando won't get many chances to fatten up on the weaker teams in the East. Their non-divisional Eastern Conference foes shake out thusly: 3 games against Chicago, the Milwaukee Bucks, the New Jersey Nets, and the New York Knicks. By extension, that means 4 games apiece against Boston, Cleveland, the Detroit Pistons, the Indiana Pacers, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Toronto Raptors.

Alumni Games for Former Players:

  • Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, and Courtney Lee--the package Orlando sent to New Jersey for Ryan Anderson and Vince Carter--will face the Magic on October 30th, November 13th, and March 5th. That last date is a bit up-in-the-air, as there's a decent chance Alston and Battie will have new addresses by then. Unfortunately, none of these games will reach national airwaves. In fact, none of New Jersey's games will enjoy such notoriety.

  • Hedo Turkoglu and the Raptors will face Orlando on November 1st, November 22nd, December 16th, and January 6th. These games aren't on the national schedule either, despite the Turkoglu/Magic angle, the budding rivalry between good buddies Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh, and Carter's return to the franchise he may have wrecked with his trade demands years ago.

Alumni Games for Current Players:

  • Brandon Bass will have two opportunities to stick it to Dallas, his former team, on national television. The dates? February 19th and April 1st.

  • Matt Barnes gets his first shot at the Phoenix Suns--his most recent former team, among 5 others, in 6 prior seasons--on November 4th. He'll try again on December 11th.

Pistons Watch:

  • I don't believe the Pistons have any sort of curse on the Magic, despite all evidence to the contrary. Orlando's record over the last three regular seasons and postseasons stands at 159-115 (.580). But remove their 2-17 record against Detroit over that span from the total, and their record is a much nicer 157-98 (.616).

  • We'll see fairly early on if Rasheed Wallace's departure offsets the additions of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to the Pistons' lineup, as 2 of the Magic's first 6 games come against their antagonists from the Motor City.


  • The season starts and ends with a rematch of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Philadelphia 76ers.

  • For the second straight season, the Magic will play the Clippers in L.A. on Dwight Howard's birthday (December 8th).

  • Also like last season, the Magic won't have much free time on holidays: they're scheduled to play on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Last year, they played on Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

  • Finally, both of Orlando's visits to Toronto will be weekend matinees, as they were last season. Chris Sheridan says this time-slot will make the game a big draw in Turkey, the home country of former Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu, who signed with the Raptors this summer. Still, that doesn't explain last year's early tip-times.