From December 25 through April 26, the Magic will play 66 games. It will be tumultuous and it will have its moments of consternation with the Dwight Howard situation waiting to play out. But there will be a season.
Orlando, as we know, will open the year in Oklahoma City at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The following day, the Magic will open their season at Amway Center against the Rockets. Obviously the schedule is going to be cramped, teams will have 123 days to fit in the 66 games, which works out to 1.9 days per game. That does not include the All-Star Break which will take place in Orlando in late February.
There will not be many breaks in the schedule.
Orlando has 18 back to backs and one back-to-back that will take place Jan. 16-18. It starts in New York before Orlando comes home to take on Charlotte and San Antonio. The Magic probably cut a break there.
The Magic will play the rival Heat four times as division opponents -- Feb. 8, Feb. 19, March 13 and March 18. The two games in Miami will be on national television. Orlando takes on Boston three times and just once at home, on Jan. 26.
As far as the unbalanced Western Conference schedule goes, Orlando goes West for a three-game jaunt to Sacramento, Portland and Golden State from Jan. 8-12. That road trip ends in New York on Jan. 16 (a rare couple of days off in this shortened season). Again, have to feel lucky that those are the only West Coast teams Orlando will face -- no, Dwight Howard does not have to go to Staples Center at all this year as a member of the Magic. Orlando does take a late-season trip to Utah and Denver in April.
So when will Howard face his potential suitors? The Lakers comes to Amway Center on Jan. 20 while the team makes its only trip to New Jersey on Feb. 22. At least the NBA will not make this awkward for us. At least not until the All-Star Break.
In all, Orlando has to feel pretty fortunate about this schedule. One extended West Coast trip against beat-able teams and the rest coming to Amway Center. Three games against the Celtics, the Bulls (two of them at home), the Hawks (vengeance is ours in the Amway Center on Feb. 10 and April 13) and the Knicks, the league is trying to give the Magic some sort of leg up on the schedule.
Really, think about that. Orlando plays four of the top six teams in the Eastern Conference last year just three times. THREE TIMES.
On top of that, Orlando plays 16 games on national TV (not including NBATV appearances). That is pretty good for a normal 82-game schedule (I think last year they were up in the 20s). Clearly, the broadcasters feel Dwight Howard and the Magic are still a team people want to watch.
I have not broken the schedule down on a calendar yet -- that comes after this post goes live -- but these breaks look to be in the Magic's favor. Orlando benefited from the schedule.
The only thing bad I see is that Orlando has a few long road trips and only a season-high three-game homestand (that occurs only twice).
It is going to be a wild ride throughout this abbreviated NBA season. So hold on tight when the games start rolling in.