Denton: Magic's 2011-12 Schedule Released

By John Denton
December 6, 2011

ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic were spared some of the fears over playing a hectic 66-game schedule in a condensed period of time when the NBA officially released its schedule Tuesday night.

The Magic will play just one back-to-back-to-back set of games over a three-day period in January. The Magic will play in New York on Jan. 16 and at home against Charlotte and San Antonio on Jan. 17 and 18. Some NBA teams will play as many as three back-to-back-to-backs, but the Magic will have just one such trio of games.

The Magic, who play on back-to-back nights 19 times (38 games) during the season, will have just one day of rest following the three games on three consecutive nights before hosting the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 20. That game will be nationally televised by ESPN.

``I’ve thought about (the schedule) a lot and it’s going to be difficult and very challenging with how compressed everything is going to be,’’ Magic guard J.J. Redick said last week. ``It’s going to be hard finding a balance between practicing and getting better and doing what we’re used to doing in practice and shootarounds to paying attention to where we are physically and mentally. The whole season is really going to be a challenge.’’

The Magic open the regular season on Dec. 25 at Oklahoma City. It’s the Magic’s fourth straight season of playing in one of the prestigious Christmas Day games. The home opener at the Amway Center will come a night later on Dec. 26 against the Houston Rockets.

Following a five-month lockout between the Players Association, training camps, the preseason and regular season will be shortened. The Magic open camp on Friday and will play the rival Miami Heat twice in the preseason (Dec. 18 in Miami and Dec. 21 in Orlando).

Magic season tickets, partial plans, group and single-game Amway Center suite rental opportunities are on sale. Ticket highlights include: 2,500 seats priced $20 or less, 8,000 seats priced $40 or less and 9,000 seats priced $50 or under. The NBA and its teams will have more than one million tickets available to fans for $10 or less over the course of the season.

``We know there are a lot of fans who support the Magic,’’ Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said recently. ``It’s unfortunate that we had the lockout, but we’re back now. We need the fans’ support.’’

The Magic and the dazzling Amway Center will serve as hosts to the NBA All-Star Game Feb. 26. The T-Mobile Rookie Challenge will be on Feb. 24, while the NBA All-Star Saturday Night events will be on Feb. 25. The NBA All-Star Jam Session will be held at the Orange County Convention Center.

Because the Magic have their longest roadtrip of the season leading up to the NBA All-Star Game, the Magic will go from Feb. 17 to March 1 without playing at the Amway Center. Orlando will face a four-game, five-day trip to Miami, Milwaukee, New Jersey and Atlanta before the all-star break. The Magic will then open the second half of the season with a road game at Washington on Feb. 29.    

Playing 66 games instead of the usual 82, the Magic will play 48 games against teams from the Eastern Conference and 18 games against teams from the Western Conference. Orlando will play 16 games against teams from the Atlantic Division, 17 games versus Central Division teams and 15 games against teams from the Southeastern Division.

Of the Magic’s 19 back-to-back games, six times will be on consecutive road games, nine times will be with a home game followed by a road game and four times with a road game followed by a home game.

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said the hectic pace of the season will cause him to adjust how much the team practices before games, particularly stretches where they are playing on consecutive nights.

``There’s an accelerated season. You’ll have guys who aren’t as prepared physically for the rigors of the season having to play a season that’s more rigorous. We’ll have to watch our team a little more,’’ Van Gundy said. ``We won’t change drastically, but we’ll make some prudent decisions. Practice time will be a little more limited so guys will have to grasp things in other ways through walkthroughs and film sessions.’’

As they have been much of the past four seasons, the Magic are still a big draw nationally. The team will appear on national television 16 times. The Feb. 19 game in Miami will be televised by ABC, while Orlando will be on ESPN nine times and on TNT six times.

The Magic play six teams four times this season. One such series is against the rival Miami Heat. Orlando hosts the Heat on Feb. 8 and March 13 and plays in Miami on Feb. 19 and March 18.

The Magic, who were knocked out of the playoffs last spring by Atlanta, hosts the Hawks on Feb. 10 and April 13. The Magic host the rival Celtics just once (Jan. 26) and play twice in Boston (Jan. 23 and April 18).

Other big home games will be against the Chicago Bulls (Jan. 6 and March 19), the defending champion Dallas Mavericks (March 30), New Jersey Nets (Dec. 29 and March 16), New York Knicks (April 5), Oklahoma City (March 1) and the San Antonio Spurs (Jan. 18).

FULL SCHEDULE>>>

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com.