Orlando Magic draw two of Western Conference’s best for warmup scrimmages

The Orlando Magic will get three warmup games before the season resumes against the two Los Angeles teams and the Denver Nuggets.

On Tuesday, the Orlando Magic are reportedly scheduled to move into their rooms at The Grand Floridian. The reality of entering the bubble is starting to dawn on players — although Nikola Vucevic said he probably will not start packing until things get a little closer.

From there, the ramp-up to the season will happen deliberately.

But it will happen. And games will be here sooner than we think.

The league announced each team will play three scrimmages against teams from the opposite conference and not within the same conference as a way to give teams a game-like gauge of where they are at before the games count.

The Orlando Magic will open up the scrimmages on July 22 against the LA Clippers. That is not the only elite team they will play either. The Magic will follow that with a July 25 matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers.

They close their scrimmages on July 27 against the Denver Nuggets.

Those are indeed difficult challenges that will force the Magic to be ready from the moment they step onto the court for the first time at Disney. If they take these games seriously — they are still preseason games — they will be playing against two title contender and then another team that is certainly just on the outside.

The scrimmage games still seem like a long way off for the team. There is a lot to get to first when the team arrives at Disney later this week.

The earliest training camp can begin then is July 9. Those who arrive in the bubble will have to wait two days in isolation to ensure everyone entering the bubble is clear of the virus. Players will have to have two negative tests 24 hours apart before they will be permitted to leave their rooms.

Those early practices will resemble offseason optional workouts more than training camp practices according to coach Steve Clifford.

But once that training camp begins, it may seem like there is not enough time to get ready before that July 31 opener against the Brooklyn Nets.

The league is not going to let teams dive straight into games. The teams nor the players really want that. They will get a practice run before the games actually count. A preseason, if you will.

That preseason seems like it is taking on a bit more importance as the NBA appears ready to use them as a dry run for what gamedays will be like.

It is not yet clear or decided whether these games will air on TV. Certainly, fans are hungry to see their teams play. They would even take preseason basketball — considering how rough everyone expects the early season play to be, be careful what you wish for.

Teams will likely approach these games as preseason games and chances to get the competitive juices flowing but to accomplish specific things. The result will not matter as much as the progress teams make — and getting out of the games healthy.

All eyes for Orlando are certainly on that opening game against Brooklyn. That game will set a lot of what the team will be able to accomplish during the seeding games. It is for control over the 7-seed once the games start.

The Magic have to be sharp for that game, regardless of where they are at now.

Orlando’s preseason opponents certainly could get them ready. The Magic are going up against some of the very best teams in the league.

Orlando only has one win in six games against these three teams. That one win is probably the signature win of the Magic’s season — a depleted squad without Evan Fournier upset the Lakers at STAPLES Center behind a triple-double from Markelle Fultz and a strong game from Aaron Gordon.

The Magic got blown out in two meetings against the Clippers, one of them coming on the day Kobe Bryant died in January. Orlando lost two fairly close games to Denver, falling on a late jumper from Nikola Jokic in Orlando in November and then losing a 15-point halftime lead in Denver in December.

At the best, they get another challenge against some of the league’s best teams that will force them to be attentive to detail from the start. At the worse, they have three warmup games to get set for the resumption of the season.

Either way, basketball is inching closer.