The Orlando Magic have the map laid out to make their return to the Playoffs in 2020. The schedule certainly seems set up for them to make it.
When the Orlando Magic open their season in October, there will be a different set of expectations for the group. There will be a different set of beliefs and understandings of what they are capable of.
But just like those previous seasons, they will start 0-0 with the possibility for anything to happen. The journey, like those previous seasons, will have its winding roads. It will not be easy, nor is the team’s ultimate success guaranteed.
Orlando at least now knows the path it will have to tread to make a second straight playoff trip. And perhaps do a bit more.
The Orlando Magic will open their season Oct. 23 at the Amway Center against the Cleveland Cavaliers. That will lead to a schedule that seems set up for the Magic to accomplish their ultimate goal of making the playoffs and building off last year’s success.
The team will start the year with nine of its first 13 games at the Amway Center and their schedule seems built for them to win games early. At least on paper.
Then the team should be able to build wins with a home-heavy March before a tough finish that sees the Magic on the road for five of the final seven games. The Orlando Magic will close the season April 15 against the Toronto Raptors.
A road-heavy finish did not stop the Magic late last season as they rallied to make the playoffs, completing a 22-9 finish to the end.
Orlando should not need that kind of a run this year. Not only because the team has more experience and the expectations to make it. But because the team seems set to bank wins early and build some early confidence. Especially considering the team has more continuity than almost any other team in the Eastern Conference.
This all seems set for the Magic to build momentum at the right moments.
That is not to say the Magic will not find some difficult paths ahead.
Orlando faces a tough West Coast road trip in December that sees them face the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers. Their second West Coast trip sees them swing through California, including a back-to-back with the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers on Jan. 15 and 16.
That road trip ends with a brutal return game to Charlotte on Jan. 20, only two days after the team plays the Golden State Warriors in their first game at the Chase Center. While the Charlotte Hornets figure to be a weaker team in the league, that is no easy trip for an MLK Day early evening showdown.
The Magic get only one favor in their intra-conference matchups. They will face the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers only three times this year. The 76ers appear to be the only surefire playoff team while the Pistons and Bulls figure to compete for their place in the Eastern Conference pecking order.
The Orlando Magic’s lone national television appearance will come March 4 when they take on the Miami Heat in Miami.
Other notable games will see the Orlando Magic host the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 11, two days before the Magic host the Houston Rockets. They will host the Clippers on Jan. 26. League MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks make their trips to the Amway Center on Nov. 1 and Feb. 6.
January will surely be tough for Orlando with that long trip and home games with several playoff contenders — including the Utah Jazz, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics and LA Clippers — but the rest of the schedule is manageable.
At least on paper.
On paper, it looks like Orlando is set up to make another playoff push. They just have to go out and play the games.