Everyone feels good on the NBA New Year.
It is probably the last time everyone will feel this optimistic about their season. The cold realities of the season will quickly hit teams as they begin their NBA journeys.
Today though? As Jeff Weltman said on media day, there is probably a bigger issue if you are not feeling good about your team entering the season. Every team, from the teams with clear title aspirations to teams expected to bring up the bottom of the standings, believes they can accomplish something.
This is the time to feel good about your team. Something about 0-0 seems to bring with it endless possibilities.
The Orlando Magic certainly feel that kind of optimism entering their season. They may even feel a bit different. A bit more confident in what they can accomplish.
The Orlando Magic are certainly optimistic about the season ahead. After an offseason and training camp of work, they are ready to begin their year tomorrow night.
Either way, they are eager to put themselves to the test and start the season. They are eager to see just how far they have come.
"“I’m excited,” Cole Anthony said after practice Tuesday. “Right now, we’re probably further ahead of where we’ve been at the start of past seasons. I’m excited. We get to get a real test tomorrow with game one against the [Houston] Rockets. I’m excited to see the fruits of our labor, the work we’ve put in and be able to show that to everyone tomorrow.”"
There has been a lot of work behind the scenes to get here. It started with the confidence they gained from their offseason.
It has been an offseason of fierce determination and confidence after the way the team finished 29-28 last season. It has been a training camp of growing maturity and belief in what they can accomplish.
Orlando seems like a team that is on the cusp of a long playoff run but a team humble enough to know there is a lot of work to go to get there. Nobody has hidden from those expectations they have set for themselves as much as what fans believe this team can do.
The preseason showed a team that is capable of winning. The team looked strong in the preseason with several indicators that would suggest the team is ready to take a major step forward.
For whatever preseason is worth, the Magic seemed to find a groove in addition to the things they still have to clean up. The 3-1 record — and the way the starters played especially — should have fans and the team excited.
All that is left to do is to go out and play.
"“What we’ve been consistently throughout this preseason is we’ve worked our [butts] off in practice, we’ve played well in the games we’ve played from 1 to 20 whatever we had on the roster,” Joe Ingles said after practice Tuesday. “I think we can hold our hat on that regardless of who we’re playing. What we’ve done internally in this facility and the couple of games that we’ve played, we’ve been consistent through those things. Obviously, the regular season is different. But if we can hold our hat on those things we’ve talked about, we’ll be off to a good start.”"
That is where the Magic are focused on now. The preseason is behind them and the games begin to count.
After a 5-20 start last year, getting off to a better start has been a rallying cry for the team. There is a focus and determination despite a difficult schedule to open the season to put them team squarely in the race rather than make up ground at the end.
Orlando hopes its continuity from last season would enable it to be more prepared to open the season.
The first game itself will not be easy either.
The Houston Rockets are a vastly different team than the one that struggled through much of last season with a new coach in Ime Udoka and new veteran acquisitions in Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks. With expected improvements — much like the Magic — from young players like Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith Jr., this Rockets team should be a tough opponent to start the season.
Still, Orlando knows to put the focus on itself and take care of its business to start the season right. This game will be about their preparation and commitment as much as anything else.
The Magic have not won their season-opening game since the COVID-shortened 2021 season.
"“Winning that first game, obviously in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge thing, but I think just for us, giving us that big confidence boost after getting that first win out of the way especially so early in the season, I think would be dope for us,” Anthony said. “We have a great chance to win this game. We just have to stick to our game plan and be ready to play.”"
That is at the heart of the Magic’s overall focus too.
The rallying cry for this offseason has been to play better basketball. Now is the time to put that to work and focus. coach Jamahl Mosley said it means turning the ball over less, finishing possessions with rebounds and getting back in transition. These were all areas the magic struggled with at times last season.
The team has talked about doing those things better all training camp just as they have talked about being ready to start the season. This is all on their board and part of the way the team has matured this season.
"“This group is different in the sense there is a maturity level about them,” Mosley said after practice Tuesday. “I say it over and over again, we may be young in our age by number but I think their maturity level and the experiences they have been through in the last year or so says a lot about them. The way they are communicating with each other and we talk to them over and over again about how much and how well they have to communicate in order to achieve success in this league.”"
It has been an optimistic and exciting offseason and training camp for the Magic. But now is the time to turn the potential energy into kinetic energy. Now is the time to put all of that work on the floor and to see where this team stands.
It has been a busy offseason. The team is now ready to get things started.