5 Orlando Magic games we are already looking forward to

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Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks hope Dejounte Murray can give the secondary ball handling the team needs to succeed. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

5 Orlando Magic games we are already looking forward to

Atlanta Hawks

The temperature between the Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks has always run pretty cool. The two teams have been geographically close, but there was never much intrigue to spice things up.

Sure, the Magic beat the Hawks in the 1996 and 2010 playoffs. But both were relatively boring series — a five-game series that was saved from a sweep by a missed Shaquille O’Neal free throw and the most dominant four-game sweep in NBA history.

There was not much connecting them. The only spice seemed to come from Jonathan Isaac torturing John Collins and D.J. Augustin putting Trae Young in a spin cycle. That is obviously not much to build a rivalry on.

These division rivals who see each other four times a year do not seem to have a reason to hate each other.

The temperature of this rivalry went from tepid to boiling Sunday in a way that it had never before. Suddenly, the Magic’s game against the Hawks is must-see TV (at least in Orlando).

Dejounte Murray did that all by himself by going after Paolo Banchero at the Zeek Weekend in Tacoma, Wash., this weekend. Their back and forth continued on social media with Banchero feeling miffed and maybe a bit confused exactly what Murray was doing.

Murray seems to have taken something personally and took it out on his fellow Seattle-area hooper. So now naturally everyone wants to see what happens when the two meet on an NBA court. There will be plenty of time to do that.

The Hawks are in a different league from the Magic right now. They acquired an All-Star in Murray to try to ease the pressure off Young, who is a true superstar.

Atlanta finished in the Play-In Tournament last year and upset their way into the playoff field. But that was a disappointment for the team especially after reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020. The Hawks are pushing all in and they needed the second ball-handler and scorer in Murray to get there.

The Magic will be little more than a nuisance this year. But they potentially could be a big one.

There is the feud between Banchero and Murray bubbling. If Banchero is the player we think he is, he is likely to remember this feud and save something for the matchup.

Then there is the playing feud between Isaac and Collins. A feud where Isaac simply does not allow Collins to score.

The Magic are going to have to climb the standings eventually. And the Hawks are a team in their way. Atlanta is a young team that is already on its perch. So this will be a measuring stick game for the young Magic and a rivalry that should percolate for the next few years.

It is certainly a prisoner-of-the-moment thing between Banchero and Murray. But everyone is eager to see these two teams play.