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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Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic, New Orleans Pelicans
Nikola Vucevic was still getting his legs back under him, but the Orlando Magic were still thrilled to have him back. (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images) /

August 13 — vs. New Orleans Pelicans (TBD)

The Orlando Magic will close the season with a game that feels like a double-edged sword.

On one hand, the New Orleans Pelicans are the kind of team the Orlando Magic do well with. A team that is equal to them. These are the kind of games the Magic have won easily.

On the other, they have never faced the Pelicans with Zion Williamson. And that is a very different team.

The Pelicans are 11-9 since Williamson made his debut on Jan. 22 with a 113.2 offensive rating (11th in the league) and 109.2 defensive rating (eighth in the league). The Pelicans have been a juggernaut, quickly injecting themselves into the Playoff race.

Williamson has made an impact because he demands so much attention defensively. But it is his defensive presence and how that team has come together on that end that has led to their spark. They are very similar to the Magic in that way — although their offensive weapons with Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram and J.J. Redick are much different.

New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans Pelicans /

New Orleans Pelicans

The motivations in this game are going to matter. This game will undoubtedly matter for the Magic. At worse, they will need the game to avoid the play-in series with the Washington Wizards. At best, they will need it to try to catch or fend off the Brooklyn Nets.

The New Orleans Pelicans are currently 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final Playoff spot. It would take a near disaster not to be eligible for the play-in series in the Western Conference. But they also have to fend off the Portland Trail Blazers and the other teams trying to get to that spot.

If the season had continued as planned, the Pelicans likely would have made a serious run at the Playoffs with one of the easier schedules remaining. New Orleans’ schedule sets up well with two games against the Kings and games against the Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards.

New Orleans might have the easiest schedule of any team in the bubble — cue the conspiracy theory.

So this game will be important to both teams.

There is not much we can draw from the teams’ first matchup — a 130-119 romp in December in Nikola Vucevic’s first game back from his sprained ankle. Williamson did not play in that game and the Magic suddenly caught fire from deep.

The Pelicans rely heavily on a fast-paced, fast-breaking offense to win. They can put up a lot of points in a hurry. Whether they are able to hit shots will be key to their success. By this point they should be able to.

This is likely a game the Magic have to get, but it will undoubtedly be tough.

110. 69. 105. 38. Prediction