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Grueling opening stretch could dictate Magic season

The Magic open the season with an absolutely brutal schedule. We'll learn a lot about where this team stands once it's over.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hoping to finally turn the corner in their rebuilding process, the Orlando Magic will be tested right out of the gate in 2015. In the first seven games of the season, the Magic will tip it up against seven teams projected to make the playoffs this year, six of which earned playoff berths a year ago. The seventh? The Oklahoma City Thunder, who nearly made the playoffs despite missing reigning MVP Kevin Durant for almost the entire season.

On top of their brutal stretch, three of those contests take place on the road, including a back-to-back in New Orleans against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans, and in Houston against James Harden's Rockets. Needless to say, the schedule-makers were not doing the Magic any favors in the opening portion of the season.

Magic season preview: Playoffs or bust for Skiles' crew

After their brutal seven game stretch to open the season-- a stretch that could result in their starting 0-7, a mark that would get them in a tough hole early -- the schedule relents a bit. In their following seven games, the Magic will face only one playoff team from last season, the Washington Wizards, and play four of the seven in the comforts of Amway Center.

Yes, it's true the season may get off to a rough start, but it will also serve as a barometer to see just where the Magic are coming out of preseason and training camp. It will be a way to gauge how much they're buying into what coach Scott Skiles and his staff are preaching, despite their inability to get on the floor as a whole unit.

Injuries have forced their fair share of Magic men to miss time over this month -- Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton missing the most with jaw and hamstring injuries, respectively -- which could hurt their continuity as a unit. While 10 of Orlando's players have been with the team for at least a year, they're integrating players who figure to play important roles, along with learning new schemes on both ends of the floor.

While the season is a marathon and not a sprint, the way it starts will tell us a lot about the Magic. Right off the bat they need to show the improvement they've been working toward, and if they're unable to, the losses could begin piling up, making for yet another long season for the Magic players and fans alike.

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