Orlando Magic will start on the road with a pair of big tests

Cade Cunningham will face off against Franz Wagner in the opening game for the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Cade Cunningham will face off against Franz Wagner in the opening game for the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic are sitting on their schedule waiting to press send at 3 p.m. on Wednesday when the league will unveil its entire schedule for the 2022-23 season.

Usually guarded like state secrets — there are pretty sizable fines for teams that leak the schedule early — only one thing is officially known about the schedule at this point:

Every team will play on Nov. 7 to help raise awareness for the league’s civic engagement efforts and remind everyone to vote in the midterm elections on Nov. 8. With that said, the league will not have any games played on that two.

Everything else that came out is all couched as reporting as the slow trickle of games started to come out throughout the day Tuesday. Wednesday’s 3 p.m. feels like a formality with essentially the whole first day and many of the major holiday games already reported.

Having said that, the Orlando Magic will see a unique challenge to start their season and a solid measuring stick for themselves right off the bat. Two games do not make a season, but Orlando is going to learn a lot in the first week of the season.

The Orlando Magic are set to open their season on the road against the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks as they see a strong challenge to check their progress to start the season.

The Orlando Magic reportedly will open on the road for the second consecutive season, the first time that has happened since the 2014 and 2015 seasons and just the second time that has occurred in team history.

They will take on the Detroit Pistons on Oct. 19 in a battle of the previous two top overall picks in the NBA Draft. The matchup was first reported by James Edwards III of The Athletic:

The Orlando Magic will then travel to State Farm Arena on Oct. 21 to take on the Atlanta Hawks as Paolo Banchero and Dejounte Murray will play the first NBA game of their seemingly simmering rivalry. The matchup was first reported by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

If these reports prove true, the Magic will start with consecutive road games for the first time since the 2013-14 season — the team opened in Indiana against the Indiana Pacers in the famed Andrew Nicholson game before heading to Minnesota to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves (they lost both games). This will be just the second time in franchise history the team will start with consecutive road games.

There will, of course, be 80 more games to reveal. And 41 more home games too.

It is not clear when the Magic will have their home opener — Orlando has never opened a season with three consecutive road games. And the biggest intrigue for the Magic coming from the schedule release is whether Banchero can deliver a few national TV games.

Really, the Magic are focused more on themselves and their development. They are less focused on reaching a win total than on seeing general improvement and more clear signs they can win.

How the schedule is constructed may suggest whether the team has a path to the postseason.

But what these first two games show is the Magic will get an early challenge to what they felt they built last season and where they might be.

The Pistons, like the Magic, are a young team still expected to finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference but ready to make the climb up with a bit more seasoning.

Cade Cunningham, last year’s top overall pick, had a strong finish to the season and looked every bit the star he was in college. Magic fans do not need the reminder of what Saddiq Bey did against them in a late-season game with a 51-point burst the game after the Magic gave up 60 to Kyrie Irving.

On top of this, Detroit continued to stock its young roster with promising players, drafting Jaden Ivey and acquiring Jalen Duren on draft night.

The Magic and Pistons will have their ups and downs this season. But it will be impossible not to compare these teams fairly directly.

They probably both view themselves on the same timeline. Orlando and Detroit are trying to climb up the ladder steadily and see what they have in the young players they have collected.

Getting an early test from a team that is their peer is a great challenge for Orlando. It is a direct measuring stick to see who is ahead.

Not that the first game usually says much.

Paolo Banchero will get his first taste of the NBA, defending Marvin Bagley or Saddiq Bey or someone bigger if Detroit goes with a big lineup with Nerlens Noel and Isaiah Stewart playing together. The Magic will still be settling into their roles.

Orlando has good talent and experience. But that may not help them and it could just be a game about which of these two young groups plays well.

The bigger measuring stick comes in game two against a playoff-hungry Atlanta Hawks team.

The Hawks will be integrating Dejounte Murray and still likely finding the balance with him and Trae Young. It is going to be an adjustment for both to figure out when to attack and when to get others involved.

For the Magic, that matchup will be tough because of the two guards they face. But more so because the Hawks had the second-best offense in the league last year. This will be a big test for whether Orlando’s defense is up to snuff early on.

The Magic had a top-10 defense after the All-Star Break last season. But that last quarter of the season included the big scoring games from Irving and Bey. So how strong was that defense really? (It was good, but it had its holes.)

Orlando wants to be built on its defense and so it will face one of the absolute best offensive teams in the league quickly.

Plus, Murray will probably be hyped to show up Banchero on an NBA floor, just as much as Banchero is likely to be fired up to play that game.

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In all, the Magic are going to get a good challenge in these first two games. Orlando will (likey) return home for its home opener understanding something new about its team. And that will be a good building block to keep up a strong start or a point to begin adjusting as they return to the Amway Center.