The 8 games we are looking forward to most on Orlando Magic’s schedule

The Orlando Magic will have to hit the ground running and find momentum quickly when the season resumes.(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic will have to hit the ground running and find momentum quickly when the season resumes.(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /
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Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
Aaron Gordon’s athleticism has made him a source of promise for the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

August 2 — vs. Sacramento Kings (6 p.m.)

The Orlando Magic’s schedule gives them a few advantages. Half of their games are against some of the select teams that are under .500 in the NBA’s bubble — the Brooklyn Nets twice, the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings.

That does not mean they are easy. But these are the exact teams the Magic have been very good at defeating throughout the course of the season.

Orlando has a stellar 25-9 record against teams with records worse than .500. The Magic have largely been good at beating the teams they are supposed to.

This is why the upcoming schedule before the season went on hiatus was so tantalizing. The Magic were getting ready to face the very teams they have beaten the most. Orlando probably felt it was about to not only take over the 7-seed but put some serious distance between the team and Brooklyn.

Sacramento Kings
Sacramento Kings /

Sacramento Kings

All that goes to the side now. As much as we want to draw from the season as it happened before the league went on hiatus, there is no clear indication teams will pick up right where they left off. They just hope they will be able to pick up the same good habits.

The Magic’s disciplined and methodical style — as much as they try to pick up the pace — could prove to be of some benefit. At least on defense.

And this second game is going to test the Magic’s ability to stick to its defensive discipline and find a way to control pace.

The Kings no longer play at the break-neck pace they did a few years ago. They do a good job spreading the floor with shooters and De’Aaron Fox is the exact kind of speedy point guard that gives the Magic problems.

The Kings are slightly below the league average in both offensive and defensive rating.

The first matchup in Sacramento between these two teams was a back-and-forth affair the Magic largely controlled. But Nemanja Bjelica kept hitting threes — 34 points on eight 3-pointers — and De’Aaron Fox proved difficult to contain.

He erased a late seven-point deficit on his own, forcing the Magic to rely on Aaron Gordon’s heroics with a putback layup to eke out the win.

The Magic will have to have a lot of 3-point discipline. But that is a hallmark of Steve Clifford’s defenses — although not so much this season — and they will need to establish Nikola Vucevic in the post well. The Kings have a lot of big bodies to throw at him, but no one that should scare the Magic’s big man.

By this second game, the Magic should know how these seeding games are going to go. They will need to see their defense control the tempo of games and stand tall to have the kind of success they want.

The Nets will be a battle of will. This will be a battle of poise and composure.

38. Prediction. 90. 84. 97