Orlando Magic have thrived in one-day rest schedule setup

The Orlando Magic have thrived this season with a day of rest in between games. Experience they will need to draw on when the season resumes. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic have thrived this season with a day of rest in between games. Experience they will need to draw on when the season resumes. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

With the eight-game format adopted to close out the regular season, days off in between games takes on new significance for the Orlando Magic.

The Orlando Magic continue to prepare for the resumption of the NBA’s regular season on July 31.

Unknowns have become a part of everyday life. And that includes how the team will manage a hectic schedule once the games begin on top of continuing to chase something resembling April game shape.

The schedule might be the only known the coaching staff is dealing with. And managing that schedule is certainly one facet the team hopes can carry over.

In fact, the Magic are the most competitive and difficult to defeat with a day of rest in between games with a 23-19 record.

Four of the team’s five victories against teams with .500-or-better records came with a day of rest beforehand. It serves as the most convincing tangible proof the Magic can play well the majority of the time once the season resumes.

Most importantly though, the Magic’s worst days are virtually all behind them. Orlando is 1-9 on the second night of back-to-backs. They will only have to deal with one more of those the rest of the season.

All this points to the Magic having a stronger opportunity to finish this season than they otherwise could have expected.

The day of rest difference

Statistics support this record.

Orlando averages 108 points per game scored on one day of rest. On no days of rest, the team averages four fewer points per game. The Magic average 106.4 points per game for the season. The extra day of rest, predictably, allows the team to be more efficient and effective offensively.

The more field goals attempted, the more points scored is also common sense. As expected shooting improves too with the extra day off.

Orlando is converting 44 percent of its attempts combined on zero and one day of rest.

Maintaining this effectiveness with just one day between games will be important with the Magic preparing to play eight games in 15 days. Fatigue is going to play a factor, especially later on in the schedule. But every team will be dealing with the same kind of schedule.

The schedule certainly dealt the Magic a rough hand. They played the most games in the league with a rest disadvantage. That factor is gone from the rest of the season.

The rest of the season is now about quickly recovering between each game.

The battle for seventh

The regular season will continue with the Orlando Magic holding the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference standings. The seventh seed is only one-half game out of reach though. The difference on the other side of the standings is actually larger. The Washington Wizards need to make up 1.5 games to force a play-in series.

And a number of players will not suit up for the Nets and Wizards.  Orlando, on the other hand, will play with a full roster with James Ennis and Markelle Fultz now joining the team at the Disney campus.

In short, the path is open for the Magic to secure an automatic berth as the seventh-seed.

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But it will still take work to secure not only the seventh seed but a playoff spot. Despite the rest advantage the Magic seem to be gaining, the schedule will still be very tough — both because of the opponents and the number of games crammed into two weeks.

Every team in the NBA is facing the same general scenario of an unprecedented challenge affecting the drive to the playoffs. Training camps will ramp up after the season was suspended and then a four-month layoff. Meaningful games follow just two weeks later.

How this will affect teams’ approach will differ.

Twelve teams have already clinched playoff berths. Those teams can afford to take longer to ramp up knowing their place is secure. Players have already begun to think the teams at the top of the standings especially may treat the seeding round games as an extended preseason to get right.

The Magic will not have that luxury. They know these eight games are the most important games of their season. Like the Magic, most of the teams still fighting for a playoff berth and positioning have to make strides towards overcoming the obstacles right away.

The short amount of time the schedule takes is unrelenting for every team means no team will be able to play starters for the usual amount of minutes.

On top of that, the Magic will not be able to count on the softer schedule they were promised before the hiatus. The overall quality of opponents increases with many of those teams eliminated.

However, for the Magic, the best possible scenario regarding days off with the schedule that was crafted.

Seven of their eight games will take place with one day of rest in between on each team’s schedule.

Next. Orlando Magic hope they enter the bubble on a level playing field. dark

The Magic were given the proverbial wild card with which to make the run to the playoffs successful. If all else fails, Orlando has a schedule centered on one day of rest in between contests to fall back on.