The NBA released the 2010-2011 season schedule Tuesday after releasing select games last week. As we learned last week, Orlando will open the Amway Center against Washington on October 28 at 8 p.m. on TNT.
It will be the first of 22 nationally televised games the Magic will play during the season and the first of nine games on TNT -- the Thursday TNT game being a featured game night for the NBA. Orlando will also play on ABC's Sunday (or Christmas) game five times.
Clearly Orlando is still one of the featured teams in the league because of the national television appearances. The NBA wants the conversation of the league to focus on the Magic at least part of the time. I am sure they will build up the budding Orlando-Miami-Boston rivalry as much as possible.
We already knew the Magic would face the Celtics at 2:30 p.m. on Christmas Day on ABC and at 8 p.m. on TNT on Martin Luther King Day (January 17). Orlando also squares off against Boston Sunday, February 6 at 2:30 p.m. on ABC to close their season series. Interesting that the two teams only meet three times, meaning there will be a definitive winner in a tiebreaking scenario. Christmas Day will be the only day Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the rest of the Celtics make a trip to the Amway Center.
The Magic travel to Miami for the first time Friday, October 29 for an 8 p.m. tilt on ESPN -- the first home game for the Heat. The division rivals also will clash in their seemingly annual Thanksgiving week clash. Orlando hosts Miami November 24, the day before Thanksgiving, at 8 p.m. on ESPN. Much to Stan Van Gundy's liking, the Magic do not play on Thanksgiving this year and get the Cavaliers the day after Thanksgiving.
The last two games in the series between Orlando and Miami will take place February 3 at 8 p.m. on TNT in Orlando. The season series wraps up March 3 in Miami. Tip off will be at 8 p.m. on TNT.
All the big inter-conference matchups will be on national TV. The Magic will be a key cog to the season's story.
The Magic get their first look at the two-time defending champion Lakers at home on February 13 a 2:30 p.m. ABC game. Orlando heads to Staples Center for the return trip on March 14 at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN.
The Magic play 17 home games on Friday, Saturday or Sunday and the schedule features 20 back-to-backs, 12 of which will be a home-road back-to-back.
Orlando will also have a season-long seven-game home stand between February 11 and March 1 (the home stand occurs during All Star Weekend too). That home stand will feature games against the Hornets, Lakers and Thunder. If there was a time for the Magic to pad their win total or gain ground in the standings, that would be the time.
They take their West Coast trips in December and in March. Both trips are five games long. The March road trip is a five-games-in-eight-days jaunt that goes through Los Angeles (to face the Lakers) and Milwaukee for the final two dates of the road trip.
The Magic's April schedule includes four games against playoff opponents -- two against Charlotte (one home and one away) and home games against Milwaukee and Chicago) -- and the season closes at Amway Center with an 8 p.m. game against Indiana on April 13.
Lots of fun as you can tell. OrlandoMagic.com has the complete schedule. Since NBA teams play a very balanced schedule, it really is what each team makes of it.