Digging Deeper into Orlando’s Roller Coaster Schedule
The Orlando Magic preseason and 2014-2015 regular season schedule are out in the open. We know when former Magic men like Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Stan Van Gundy, Dwight Howard, J.J. Redick, and others are coming back to Amway Center. Orlando once again won’t be on a true nationally televised game. Got it. Let’s dig deeper into the regular season schedule difficulty level itself. All of the graphics provided in this piece come courtesy of Ed Kupfer.
19 of Orlando’s first 28 contests are on the road. Only nine of those contests are against Western Conference opposition, so the Magic will find out quickly how they stack up in the East. Also, 17 of those 28 games are against franchises that reached the playoffs last season. Their season-long 6-game road trip is in the heart of that stretch. Other than that though, Orlando has no 5-game road trips and only one 4-game roadie (Jan. 7th-12th) for the entire season.
Talk about rookie trial by fire for Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, and Devyn Marble. We’re in the third year of the Rob Hennigan-Jacque Vaughn era. 20-something wins should not be tolerated again this upcoming season. The Magic were a franchise-worse 4-37 on the road in ’13-’14. It’s awful in an NBA perspective. If Orlando mirrors similar road failures in the ’14-’15 campaign, then it’s going to be a horrendous first 1/3 of the season.
16 out of 23 games from January 14th to March 8th – with the February 12th through Feb. 19th All-Star Break in between – are played inside Amway Center. Thirteen of those 23 contests are against squads that were in the postseason last season. This is where Jacque’s roster is going to have find their winning ways if they want a chance at the playoffs. Orlando was only 19-22 at home last year and it’s a given that you have to be over .500 on our own floor to have a prayer at a playoff bid.
From March 20th through the conclusion of the regular season, 8 of the Magic’s final 12 games are at home (with the last 2 being in Miami and at Brooklyn). Their season-high 5-game home stretch is at the start of this period. Seven of those twelve games are against opponents who made the playoffs last season. If Orlando can survive hell for the first two months, there are some very kind home-heavy stretches that Coach Vaughn’s squad can take advantage of. When you’re a team that has been at the bottom of the totem pole, no contest is easy.
Below we get into rest, travel, and back-to-back discussion.
Distance to be covered by each NBA team in the 2014-15 season. pic.twitter.com/8OVbNWm3F1
— Ed Kupfer (@EdKupfer) August 14, 2014
Orlando has the 15th-most plane miles to travel this campaign. Right in the middle. That’s not bad at all considering our city is tucked in the bottom corner of the country. I’m just baffled at how our sunshine state rival travels the least out of all of the East squads. The trade-off for the lengthier 8-day All-Star lay-off is that the Magic will actually have 2 back-to-backs at Amway Center. Orlando has 17 total back-to-backs. That’s great actually because only 4 other NBA teams have fewer (Heat are one of them with 16).
The Magic only have 13 games in which their opponent is on the second night of a back-to-back. That’s the least in the Southeast division and only the Cavaliers have it worse in the East. It’s unfortunate because that means Orlando will have fewer chances to pounce on a fatigued team.
Finally, let’s take a peek at rest advantages.
NBA: UTA and DAL play 28 games in which they are more rested than opponents. ATL and BOS tied for least at 13. pic.twitter.com/AV108vYZdJ
— Ed Kupfer (@EdKupfer) August 14, 2014
Orlando is going to be on basically a level playing field in terms of rest both at home and on the road. That’s not great in the grand scheme of the Southeast division. Only Atlanta will be at more of a rest disadvantage than the Magic. Miami, Washington, and Charlotte play more contests where they’re more rested than their opponent than Orlando, and those three teams play fewer games where they’re less rested than the Magic.
At the end of the day, Jacque Vaughn and his coaching staff won’t pay a moment of attention as to how much harder their schedule is than an another team, or how easy other franchises have it when it comes to rest or travel. It’s all about the guys on the court. Do these types of small schedule advantages and disadvantages make a difference in determining what will happen with a squad that is on the cusp of the postseason or lottery? Yes, I believe that to be true. Are the 2014-2015 Orlando Magic going to find themselves in that possible situation? We’ll find out.
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