Statistically speaking, Orlando and Denver mirror each other in the team's season openers since 1989. No really, Orlando has a combined season opening record of 14-9. Denver has a combined season opening record of 9-14 (15 including this year).
This is the first time in franchise history that the Magic have met the Nuggets in its inaugural game of the season. Having said that, Denver has already played its opener this season, an 84-75 loss on Wednesday to a Bynum-less Philadelphia 76ers team.
Coming into Friday night, Orlando has reached the century mark in points in 11 of its 23 season openers. Denver has reached the 100-point mark on 12 occasions since the 1989-90 season, including a 158-point game against Golden State in the 1990-91 season.
Orlando has never lost a season opener by more than 14 points. Impressively, the Magic have won by as many as 29 points in their season openers, twice. Since the 1989-90 season, Denver has dropped a game by 18 points in the season opener and won by as many as 22, on three different occasions.
Statistics do not always tell the entire story though, considering this year is expected to be a down year for Orlando. If Orlando is going to surprise anyone, it could very well be in the opening game.
Coming into Friday’s game against Orlando, Denver is shooting the ball at a respectable 45.6 percent from the field. Considering Orlando will be running several players together for the first time in live action, that number could easily swell above the 50 percent mark.
Without Dwight Howard for the first time in several years, the interior defense of Orlando should be tested. Orlando has many questions on both sides of the ball, but what most people will point to is on the defensive side.
Orlando won six of nine openers after drafting Dwight Howard in 2004. But teams will be more apt to attack the paint against the Magic without number 12 guarding the paint, so it could be a long night inside for Orlando if the young guys do not remain disciplined.
Historically, Orlando has had success on opening night, even more so than the Nuggets (since 1989). The opening game for Orlando will pit them against a team of similar structure and mindset. Orlando will need to rely on each other, play together, hustle and most importantly stay disciplined on defense to stand a chance.
Learning from history is key to the future, and if we know one thing about Orlando while looking at their history, it’s that they normally don’t disappoint on opening night.