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A look back on the Orlando Magic’s history in season openers

Miami Heat v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

It seems like the NBA season just ended, but we’re less than two months from the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

The schedule was released earlier this month and the Orlando Magic will open the season on the road on Oct. 20 against the San Antonio Spurs. It’s unusual for the Magic to begin the year in Texas, but they’ll take on the Spurs for what will be the 33rd season opener in franchise history.

The Magic have won their last four season-openers. Here’s a look back at Orlando’s opener history:

Record in openers: 19-13

With four straight wins on Opening Night, the Orlando Magic have fared quite well historically in their season debuts. The last loss to open the season came to the Miami Heat on Oct. 26, 2016.

Most common opponent in openers: Miami Heat

More than 1/6 of Orlando’s season openers historically have taken place against their in-state rival. The Magic have opened their season against the Miami Heat six times, including last season. With last year’s 113-107 victory, Orlando improved to 5-1 all-time against the Heat in openers.

Largest margin of victory in openers: 29, twice

The Magic’s largest margin of victory on opening night is 29 points on two occasions. The first came in a 114-85 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Oct. 30, 2001. Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill combined for 45 points in the win.

Orlando opened the Amway Center on Oct. 28, 2010 with a 112-83 victory over the Washington Wizards. Dwight Howard finished with 23 points on an uber-efficient 7-for-9 shooting to go with a game-high 10 rebounds.

Most lopsided loss in openers: 17, at New Orleans Pelicans, Oct. 29, 2014

The largest loss in an opener for the Magic came a year prior to their closest loss. Despite a 17-point, 23-rebound performance from Nikola Vucevic and 25 points from Tobias Harris, the Magic were no match for the New Orleans Pelicans in a 101-84 defeat.

Anthony Davis finished with 26 points and 17 boards to lead the Pelicans. Former Magic forward Ryan Anderson added 22 points. Omer Asik added 14 points and 17 rebounds.

Closest win in openers: one vs. Milwaukee Bucks, Nov. 3, 2004

The closest win ever for Orlando in an opener came during the 2003-04 season against the Milwaukee Bucks, 93-92. Michael Redd had seemingly delivered the Bucks with a jumper to put them in front by a point with 3.5 seconds to play.

In his Orlando debut, guard Steve Francis won the game for Orlando with a lay-in just before the buzzer. Francis finished with 26 points and seven assists in his Magic debut. Redd led Milwaukee with 19 points.

Closest loss in openers: one vs. Washington Wizards, Oct. 28, 2015

Five years after tying their largest margin of victory in an opener, the Orlando Magic suffered their closest loss ever in a season opener, falling to the Wizards by an 88-87 margin. The Wizards closed the game on a 6-0 run capped by a John Wall basket with less than 13 seconds to play.

The Magic looked to have answered on the other end when former Orlando center Marcin Gortat was called for goaltending. Replay would overturn the call before Nikola Vucevic missed a jumper as time expired. Victor Oladipo paced Orlando with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Washington’s Bradley Beal led all scorers with 24 points.

Best Magic performance in openers: Nick Anderson, Nov. 6, 1992 vs. Miami

Orlando Magic guard and the first player drafted in franchise history, Nick Anderson, had one of the best performances of his career in the 1992-93 opener at home against the Miami Heat.

On 17-for-26 shooting, Anderson finished with 42 points to go with eight rebounds, six assists and five steals. With the contest tied at 91 after three quarters, Anderson poured in 16 points in the final period to lead the 110-100 victory. Shaquille O’Neal would score 42 points for the Magic in the season opener against the Heat the following season.

Longest streak in openers: Five wins, 2000-04

From the start of the Tracy McGrady era to the start of the Dwight Howard era, the Orlando Magic started 1-0 in five straight seasons. Victories during that stretch came over the Wizards, Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks and Bucks. The longest losing streak for the Magic in openers is four from 2013-16.