Magic Set to Open Season Against Familiar Foe
ORLANDO -- Head coach Steve Clifford, rookie center Mohamed Bamba and the rest of the new-look Magic will make their regular-season debuts with Orlando at the Amway Center against a couple of familiar foes – the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Hornets.
Orlando opens its 30thanniversary season with home games against the Heat (Oct. 17) and the Hornets (Oct. 19). It is the third consecutive season that the Magic will open at home against the rival Heat. (They did that just twice before in the previous 27 seasons, with the Magic beating the Heat in the 1992 and ’93 season-openers.) As for the second game of the season, it will pit Clifford – who was hired on May 30 to be the Magic’s new head coach – against the Charlotte franchise that he coached over the previous five seasons.
Those first two games are just a couple of the many highlights in the Magic’s 2018-19 season schedule, which was officially released by the NBA on Friday. All throughout the season, the Magic will be celebrating their 30th year in existence and honoring some of the key people associated with the franchise. Over the past three decades, Orlando has reached two NBA Finals, captured two Eastern Conference titles, nabbed five division crowns and won 50 games five times.
Orlando will have just 14 sets of back-to-back games – one fewer than last season and the least amount it has had since the 13 back-to-backs in the 2012-13 season. Included among those back-to-backs are three instances where the Magic will have home games on consecutive nights. Also, the franchise will play 21 of its 39 games at the Amway Center on either Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights.
Additionally, the Magic will have a season-long five-game, 12-day homestand late in the season (March 14-25) and early on they will encounter two road trips of at least six games (Nov. 23-Dec. 4 and Dec. 31-Jan. 9). As for fall’s major holidays, the Magic will play at the Amway Center two days prior to Thanksgiving (Nov. 20 vs. Toronto) and it has home games just before (Dec. 23 vs. Chicago) Christmas and also the day after (Dec. 26 vs. Phoenix).
Superstar forward LeBron James, who left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers in July, will make his lone Amway Center appearance on Nov. 17. Golden State, NBA champions each of the past two seasons, will play in Orlando on Feb. 28. In something of a scheduling twist, the Magic will face James and the Lakers (Nov. 25 in Los Angeles) and Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors (Nov. 26 in Oakland) on consecutive nights early in the season.
As announced earlier in the week, Orlando will headline the NBA Mexico City Games 2018 in mid-December. The Magic will officially be the home team when they face the Chicago Bulls (Dec. 13) and Utah Jazz (Dec. 15) at Mexico City’s Arena Ciudad de Mexico.
The Magic will open training camp on Sept. 25 at the Amway Center and begin preseason play on Oct. 1 in Philadelphia. Orlando will play three home games during the preseason (Oct. 5 vs. Flamengo; Oct. 10 vs. Memphis; and Oct. 12 vs. San Antonio) before beginning the regular season five nights later.
The Magic drafted the 7-foot Bamba – a center possessing the longest wingspan (7 feet, 10 inches) ever recorded in the NBA – with the sixth overall pick in the June NBA Draft to pair with 6-foot-11 forward Jonathan Isaac. Orlando also signed standout forward Aaron Gordon to a long-term contract extension in July. The hope is that Clifford – who worked previously for the Magic as a highly successful assistant coach from 2007-12 – can quickly mold Orlando’s dynamic, young talent and a veteran core that includes Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, Jonathon Simmons, D.J. Augustin and Terrence Ross into a winner. The hope is that Clifford will get the franchise back into the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
Other notable nights and stressful stretches on the Magic’s regular-season schedule include:
This season, Orlando will play four games against several teams expected to be at the top of the East – Toronto, Philadelphia, Indiana and Washington. And among the six games combined against Boston and Milwaukee, Orlando will play four of those on the road. The Magic will face Brooklyn just three times, and of the four games against the Bulls, two will be in Chicago and a third will be in Mexico City.
Facing top teams four times means plenty of must-see games at the Amway Center for Magic fans. The Raptors and new forward Kawhi Leonard (Nov. 20 and Dec. 28), 76ers and stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons (Nov. 14 and March 25) and the Pacers and Most Improved Player award-winner Victor Oladipo (Dec. 7 and Jan. 31) visit the Amway Center twice. So, too, do Southeast Division rivals Miami (Oct. 17 and Dec. 23), Washington (Nov. 9 and Jan. 25), Charlotte (Oct. 19 and Feb. 14) and Atlanta (March 17 and April 5).
The NBA, which has worked diligently to give team’s more rest and better account for time zone changes when travelling, altered two other start times that affect the Magic. A Jan. 27 game between the Rockets and Magic was moved back an hour to 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. in Houston) so as to give Houston more rest following a road game the night previously. Also, Orlando’s Feb. 9 game in Milwaukee was pushed to a 9 p.m. ET start (8 p.m. in Milwaukee) – something that could potentially have a negative impact on Orlando a night later when it plays in Atlanta (7:30 p.m. tip time).
That stretch could very well be a make-or-break one for the season for the Magic, which has hopes of ending a playoff drought that extends to 2012.
Magic season tickets, partial plans, group and single-game Amway Center suite rental opportunities are on sale. Ticket highlights for the Magic’s 2018-19 season in the Amway Center – honored with TheStadiumBusiness Awards’ 2013 Customer Experience Award and named SportsBusiness Journal’s 2012 Sports Facility of the Year – include: 2,500 seats priced $20 or less; 8,000 seats priced $40 or less; and 9,000 seats priced $50 or less. Single-game tickets for all regular-season games will go on sale Aug. 30 at 10 a.m. For more ticket information, log onto OrlandoMagic.com or call 407-89-MAGIC.
Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.