3 things to watch as the Orlando Magic release their schedule

The Orlando Magic will find out their schedule for the 2023 season later today. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic will find out their schedule for the 2023 season later today. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic and NBA schedule is virtually the same every year. As the jokes came down when the schedule began to leak out throughout the NBA on Tuesday, yes, the schedule has its familiar beats.

Yes, there will be 82 games — 41 at home and 41 on the road. The Magic are likely to take their regular road trips in early December, late January and mid-March (the Amway Center hosts the NCAA Tournament first and second rounds on March 16-18, 2023, so there will be a road trip then).

The only thing that is known throughout the league is that every team will play on Nov. 7 in a day of civic engagement to encourage everyone to vote in the mid-term elections on Nov. 8. And the entire league will be off for Election Day on Nov. 8.

Other than that, it is just the slow trickle of leaks that have come out.

The NBA schedule gets released today as the Orlando Magic prepare for the 2023 season. here is what I look for when the schedule comes down.

According to several reports, the Orlando Magic are set to open their season in Detroit against the Detroit Pistons on Oct. 19 followed by a trip to Atlanta against the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 21. Everything else is still a big mystery as the league waits to release the schedule officially.

That will happen today (Wednesday) at 3 p.m.

The schedule is the schedule. It is relatively the same every year — the other feature of recent year’s schedules is a home-heavy back half of the season leading into a potential playoff run.

Still, we do this exercise every year. And until we get the full 82-game slate, there are a few things to highlight and a few things that I look at when the schedule comes out.

So as the schedule comes out and we sit down and break down what the map is ahead for the team, here are the five things I look at when the schedule first comes out.

Road Trips and Homestands

Immediately, I start to look for when the schedule comes out is where the team’s road trips and homestands come and, probably more importantly, who the team faces in those stretches of play.

It is difficult to predict who is good and who is bad before the season — last year, I pointed to two late games against the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of a potentially easier stretch to finish the season. That obviously was not the case.

But a season-long five-game homestand where you face the Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks does not really feel like an advantageous homestand for a team like the Orlando Magic.

The who matters as much as the how long.

West Coast trips are typically constructed in similar ways — the Magic typically have a California-centered trip and then a Rocky Mountain-centered trip. And they usually take place around the same time in the calendar year.

Typically the Magic take their West Coast road trips in early December and late January. That has usually been a good thing to be done with West coast trips. But the last time the Amway Center hosted the NCAA Tournament, the team took a West Coast road trip in March while the arena was booked.

We do know the Magic will be on the road in mid-March while the NCAA tournament takes over the Amway Center. Where the team heads for that trip will be the big mystery of the schedule release later today.

As for homestands, Orlando typically has long homestands around the Christmas holiday and then another one toward the end of the season in March. The NCAA Tournament may change that and move that around. So Orlando may not have as favorable of a schedule late in the season as in recent years.

As long as there is no pit stop in New Orleans on the way back from the West Coast, all will be good.

The National TV games

I am guilty of it as much as everyone else in Magic fandom. I am interested in how often the Orlando Magic appear on national TV too.

Orlando as a city is still trying to carve out its identity and I remember growing up obsessed with how ESPN covered the Tracy McGrady-era Magic and upset when they got demoted to the C Block — look McGrady was the most entertaining player in the league, it confused me that no one was talking about him constantly.

It is hard not to look down at how the Magic print their schedule in the press release and see the added TV info in parentheses. How many times a team is on national TV certainly speaks to what the NBA thinks about which teams will be entertaining and which teams will be part of the larger story of the season.

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Orlando does not deserve a ton of national attention quite yet. This is still a team that is going to be near the bottom of the standings — although they may quickly become a League Pass darling.

Paolo Banchero adds a little wrinkle to the equation though. He is the number one pick in the Draft and that should get at least some intrigue. It should merit at least one game on ESPN (TNT might be asking too much) and a healthy sprinkling of NBATV games.

Trying to figure out which game the league might want to put on national TV is probably a bigger challenge. The Magic do not really have many rivalries and Banchero is just a young, blank canvas. Maybe they put one of the other three games against the Atlanta Hawks on national TV. But the hullabaloo from Paolo Banchero’s beef with Dejounte Murray will probably die down.

So who will it be? It could be a West Coast game that the broadcasters need to fill. Or it could be the rookie matchup with Chet Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

I would anticipate at least one, maybe even two, national TV appearances. That is at least affirmation of some progress.

Marquee Matchups

I am a fan just like everyone else and one of the first things I look for when I peruse the schedule are the marquee matchups.

That includes the Orlando Magic’s chief rivals: the Miami Heat (especially), the Chicago Bulls, the Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics (you can probably sense a theme on which teams my fandom personally despises). It would also include when the defending champion Golden State Warriors come to town — the Orlando Magic have an astounding four-game win streak at the Amway Center over the Warriors.

I also tend to look at return trips too. Of course, the Magic did not make any trades this season or lose any significant players (still love you Robin Lopez!), so there are not many of those to look forward to. Nikola Vucevic’s return with the Bulls should still have some meaning.

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Orlando is still growing some new rivalries. And there are plenty of matchups we are already looking forward to as we wait for the schedule.