The 2014-15 NBA regular season schedule has been released, and Orlando Magic fans have to be a little bit apprehensive about how the season may begin for this young and exciting team. It is not the easiest of beginnings, starting in New Orleans with a tough away game against the Pelicans on Oct. 28.
It gets no easier, but should the tough start be of too much concern?
Quick disclaimer: I take the schedule maybe a little more seriously than some other people do. It is not the be all and end all, a healthy roster is for a team with high hopes of going far.But getting off to a good start is important, otherwise a team finds itself playing catch up. For a team like the Magic with limited talent, it is important not to fall too far behind so early in the season.
So from that tough opener against the Pelicans, Orlando then has two games at home in three days. First up it’s the Washington Wizards, followed by the Toronto Raptors 48 hours later. Orlando’s home form wasn’t so bad last season, it is where more than three-quarters of their wins came from.
However, both the Wizards and Raptors are two rising teams in the East, with young and promising rosters. So it is quite possible that the Magic could be in an 0-3 hole only a few days into the season.
Of course with this reasonably tough start to the season, that means a let up in opposition at some point later in the year, but any slim playoffs hopes may be gone by then. We’ll be positive here though, and predict a loss to the Pelicans, and then a 1-1 split at home against the Wizards and Raptors.
After that, it is a trip to the United Center to face what will more than likely be a Chicago Bulls team still reveling in having a healthy Derrick Rose back on the court. Again couple that with the poor away form, and this is probably a loss once more for the Magic.
Any preseason confidence and optimism may have been hit by a hard wave of reality by that point. It is about keeping the team upbeat through this period though.
From there, the next four games pan out like this. A trip to face the Philadelphia 76ers, the Minnesota Timberwolves coming into town, an away game at the Brooklyn Nets and another meeting with the Raptors up in Canada.
Philadelphia and Minnesota are winnable games, and it is possible the athleticism of the Magic could be too much for the greybeard Nets as well. Again the Raptors will be tough, but this is the sort of patch where a little run of wins could break out, which is what the team will be hoping for.
Keeping with the positive theme, bar traveling to New Orleans and Toronto, there are a run of six games where the team is either at home or plays away against teams in the Eastern Conference. In other words, not too much travelling to begin the season and the chance to settle into the campaign with a nice run of games.
Yes the team won’t be appearing on national television next year, but really this should come as no surprise to anybody. A rebuilding job that is still taking place mixed with a young roster doesn’t exactly make for prime time television.
So anything this team achieves will most certainly be done under the radar.
So what do you think of the opening run of games for this team? The chance to establish themselves early and get some wins on the board, or a tough beginning in the continued struggle to get back to the playoffs?
The bigger contests with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant will come later on in the year, and they will attract the big numbers when they roll into town. But the reality is that it’s the games against the less glamorous teams that will dictate how good this team can be next year.
Looking at the opening run of games, there would appear a chance the Orlando Magic can start the season well. The roster with it’s blend of veterans and rookies should have enough talent to overcome the likes of the 76ers and Timberwolves, and may even surprise the Wizards and Raptors at home.
So the verdict is that it could have been much worse for the Magic. Had the season started harder and with a tough away trip, they could have been 0-8 with their season in tatters before November ended.
This schedule gives the team a chance to remain competitive for some weeks into the season. For the Magic, that’s all they could have hoped for.
Here is a link to the full schedule, courtesy of the official website of the Orlando Magic.